by Amber Rudd
Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure on our streets and in our communities.
In just 90 minutes, the horrific acid attacks that occurred last week injuring five people sought to remove that feeling of security and spread fear throughout London. My thoughts are with the victims of these horrific attacks which cause trauma no one should ever have to suffer.
The effect on these five people and all such victims can be a life sentence. Our faces show our life story, they are how we present ourselves to the world, so to attack a person’s face in this way is to attack their identity, it attacks who they are.
Both the physical trauma and the mental anguish of such an attack sometimes never goes away. The challenges faced by victims as they try to move on can be insurmountable and their lives changed forever. I am clear that these life sentences must not be reserved for those victims.
Our current laws are strong, they have meant that acid attackers faced life sentences in certain cases but it is vital we improve our response so in every case the punishment reflects the severity of the crime.
That’s why I have announced an action plan to tackle acid attacks, which will include measures to ensure all those working in the criminal justice system have the powers they need to make sure those who commit these terrible attacks feel the full force of the law.
It will include a wide-ranging review of the law enforcement and criminal justice response, of existing legislation, of access to harmful products and of the support offered to victims. We will make sure that acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons, as knives are. And we will look again at the Poisons Act to assess whether it should cover more of these harmful substances.
This government has been robust in tackling crime across the board, meaning people are safer on the streets and in our communities. We can and must build on this progress in bringing down violent crimes on our streets.
This week, I have also announced plans to consult on new offences to toughen up knife crime laws including restricting the online sale of knives and banning possession of dangerous or offensive weapons on private property.
Knife crime, like acid attacks, has devastating consequences. We are determined to tackle it and do all we can to break the deadly cycle and protect our children, families and communities.
This includes tightening the law in order to stop under-18’s being able to purchase knives. The proposed measures would mean anyone who bought a knife online would be required to collect it in person, with retailers responsible for checking the age of all buyers.
We must send a strong message that it is not acceptable to possess a dangerous weapon, be that a knife, dangerous chemicals or another method to inflict harm, and we need to give our police the powers that they need to crack down on offenders.
I am clear, as your home secretary, I will stand up for victims and those who seek to spread fear on the streets of Britain will feel the full force of the law under this government.