by LAUREN CODLING
THE survivor of an acid attack has welcomed British retailers’ refusal to sell corrosive substances to under 18s, but said the government should be taking note of the responses of third-world countries to acid crime.
Jabed Hussain was sprayed with a corrosive substance by two attackers in east London
while waiting at a traffic light.
The former UberEats delivery driver was the first of five other victims within a threemile
radius who were also targeted last July.
“Bangladesh had one of the worst acid crime rates in the world, but they have handled
it,” Hussain told Eastern Eye on Tuesday (9). “At the moment, [rates of] acid attacks
are worse in the UK than in Bangladesh – more than 450 in 2017, which is more
than a third-world country.
“We need to see how they tackled it and try to learn from them.”
The government has launched the voluntary plan, announced last weekend, which stated that major UK retailers would not sell products containing harmful levels of acid to people under the age of 18.
Tesco and Wickes are among those who have signed up to the proposal.
Acid crime spiked last year in the UK. From January to the end of October 2017, there were over 400 acid-related attacks registered by the Metropolitan Police.
Since 2010, there have been around 1,800 incidents involving corrosive substances in
Last December, Tower Hamlets council launched an initiative to tackle acid attacks which involved getting local shopkeepers to sign up to a protocol about when and who they will sell acids to.
The agreement encouraged business owner not to sell the substance to young people
and additionally, be thoughtful about the behaviour of people who came into shops
seeking to buy acid.
Reacting to the new proposal, Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said although he welcomed the announcement that supermarkets and some larger DIY stores would restrict the sales, more needed to be done.
“We are working with our local retailers to ensure they are selling acids responsibly,” Biggs said. “However, the government needs to take much tougher action to tackle this problem.”
Labour MP Rushanara Ali, who represents Bethnal Green and Bow, shared Biggs’ view that more action was needed.
“As well as prohibiting the sale of corrosive substances to under-18s, the government must continue its clampdown on the sale of corrosive substances by working with smaller retailers,” she told Eastern Eye.
“The government should look at working with small shops in a similar way to how the
Labour council in Tower Hamlets has.” She added that more support should be available for victims of acid attacks as the impact can be “life changing”.
Physically, Hussain has no visible scarring from the acid attack as his helmet protected
most of his face. However, he has chest problems which he believes could be due to him swallowing water which may have contained traces of acid.
The 33-year-old, who is currently not working, said he is not the same person he used to be due to the psychological effects of the attack. He finds it hard to trust people and is fearful about going outside alone.
He said: “It has divided me from society. For instance, if I’m at home and someone rings the bell, I wouldn’t open the door as it might be someone who wants to throw acid on me or attack me. I used to have a lot of friends but now I don’t trust anyone.”
One of the accused linked to the July attack is 17-year old Derryck John. He pleaded
guilty on Monday (8) to six counts of throwing a corrosive liquid with intent to ‘disable, burn, maim, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm’, two counts of robbery and four counts of attempted robbery.
Hussain said he “[felt] sorry” for the perpetrator after seeing his picture.
“He needs to get the punishment for what he did but why was he involved in crime at this young age?” Hussain said. “Why is the government not looking after them? I saw
his picture and I feel sorry for him.”