Tower Hamlets seeks support of shop owners ‘to keep people safe’ from acid attacks


INITIATIVE: Mayor John Biggs (left) and Jabed Hussain at the launch of the Tower Hamlet council’s initiative to
tackle acid attacks which involves getting
local shopkeepers to sign up to a protocol about when and who they
will sell acids to.
INITIATIVE: Mayor John Biggs (left) and Jabed Hussain at the launch of the Tower Hamlet council’s initiative to tackle acid attacks which involves getting local shopkeepers to sign up to a protocol about when and who they will sell acids to.

by LAUREN CODLING

A DELIVERY driver who survived an acid attack four months ago said he continues to suffer the emotional effects of the incident, as he helped launch an initiative to tackle growing
incidences of the crime.

Jabed Hussain, 32, was sprayed with a corrosive substance by two attackers in east London while waiting at a traffic light on the evening of July 13.

The former UberEats delivery driver was the first of five other victims within a three-mile radius who were targeted the same night.

“Mentally, I’m shocked,” Hussain told Eastern Eye in London last Wednesday (6). “I feel like I’ve had a bad dream and it is scaring me all the time. I feel like if I spend some time with my family I should be fine, but it isn’t working.”

Jabed Hussain speaking with Eastern Eye reporter Lauren Codling

Hussain attended the launch of the Tower Hamlet council’s initiative to tackle acid attacks which involves getting local shopkeepers to sign up to a protocol about when and who they will sell acids to.

The agreement encourages the business owners to not sell the corrosive substance to young people and additionally, be attentive to the behaviour of people who come into shops seeking to buy acid.

“[The initiative] is part of a wider range of things, including working with the police, with our youth service, and across the community to emphasise quite how horrified the community has been with acid attacks. We also need to take extra steps to make sure people feel safe,” the mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, told Eastern Eye at the launch.

From January this year to the end of October, 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 London.

Motorcycle delivery drivers and motorcyclists took part in a demonstration in London following the spike of acid attacks in the capital. (Photo by: NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images)

“It is about increasing the publicity and showing we are taking these offences very seriously,” Biggs said. “Earlier this summer, there were some young men who seemed to think this was a clever way of getting around the law and I think the reaction of the police
and the government and ourselves has made it clear this is not the case.”

An assistant chief constable with Suffolk police, Rachel Kearton, said individuals targeting victims with acid seem to be males between the ages of 26 and 35.

Biggs said the council was in touch with the Home Office regarding sentencing of perpetrators of acid-related crimes, as he stressed the law needs to be revised to curb the rise in such crimes.

“We need to take extra steps to make sure people feel safe,” he said. “A number of us think the law should be changed and tightened up a bit more, so this is a tiny initiative on the whole scale of things, but it is also part of the public education and public safety campaign that we, as a council, feel we have a duty to carry out.”

In October, home secretary Amber Rudd called for the sale of corrosive substances to under-18s to be made illegal. She also proposed a new offence for those found to be carrying the liquid in a public place.

Hussain said he was mostly recovered, although he still has chest problems which he believes could be due to swallowing water which may have contained traces of acid. At the time of the attack, he had his helmet on, which protected most of his face, so he does not have any visible scarring.

Hussain, who is not currently working, said he would love to go back to his job despite what has happened.

“I loved my job, it’s flexible and I can look after my family,” he said. “I would love to go back to my job despite everything, but I need to think carefully about it before I go back.”