THE number of acid attacks has hit record levels in London, with 752 such offences taking place last year.
The 2012 to 2018 figures show that number of acid attacks surged from 66 in 2012 to 252 last year. About 17 attacks were carried out on children under the age of 10, reported the Standard last week citing statistics from the Metropolitan Police.
“London has sadly become the acid attack hotspot in the western world,” one of Britain’s leading criminologists was quoted as saying.
The easy availability of acid is what has led to a surge in such attacks, said Dr Simon Harding, associate professor in Criminology at the University of West London. It is also cheap and instils fear.
“The rise in these attacks relate to a surge in knife crime in 2017 and 2018. Carrying bleach moved away from being a weapon of last resort, where it was used to target someone you truly hated,” Harding was quoted as saying.
“It became a casual thing and for some that meant it became a weapon of first resort. Some of them look at violence like a video game and acid takes them to the next level in the game.
“It can be used in robberies, burglaries, revenge attacks, during thefts of mopeds or to intimidate witnesses.”
Newham topped the list of boroughs with the highest number of acid attacks. Between January 2015 and December 2018, there were 316 acid attacks in Newham. Barking and Dagenham were second-placed with 146 attacks.
Meanwhile, the Home Office said the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 will give extra powers to police to stop and search those they suspect of carrying acid.
But former delivery rider Jabed Hussain, who had acid sprayed in his face by two robbers in 2017, said: “More needs to be done. The legislation is feeble and the criminals are smarter than the law.”