Survivor, NGO call for tougher measures against acid attack in UK

Survivor, NGO call for tougher measures against acid attack in UK

Thursday, August 3, 2017 10:41 am

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Victim of acid attacks in Britain on Thursday called on the government to enforce longer prison sentences and tighten controls on the sale of corrosive substances, after a jump in the number of cases in 2016 and 2017.

The issue hit headlines after a recent spate of attacks, including one in June in which two cousins were doused with acid through a car window as they were out celebrating a birthday, prompting Interior Minister Amber Rudd to review legislation.

There have been several acid attacks in London since, from robberies to gang-related violence.

Andreas Christopheros, who was assaulted at his home in 2014, joined a chorus of acid attack survivors demanding that tough words become reality.

“I believe the UK has got its strategy towards this completely wrong,” he told Reuters at his home in Truro, a seaside town in southwest England.

“I strongly believe that the sentencing for anyone who carries out any form of acid attack, whether their intended victim is injured badly or not, should serve a life sentence, with a minimum term of 20 or more years.”

Metropolitan Police numbers show that crimes using corrosive substances in London jumped in 2016 to 431 from 261 in 2015.

Police also said, so far this year, there have been 282.

There is no clear explanation for the rise, but it coincides with a crackdown on weapons including the “two strikes” rule requiring a mandatory minimum sentence of six months for people convicted of carrying a knife for the second time.

Jaf Shah, executive director of London-based non-profit Acid Survivors Trust International, described a “loophole” in the law whereby people possessing acid would not be charged but those carrying a gun or a knife could.

“There just aren’t appropriate levels of controls around acid,” Shah said. “If you are caught with acid, police have to prove intent, which is very difficult.”

The Home Office said it planned to set out guidance for prosecutors on classifying corrosive substances as dangerous weapons and to review sentencing guidelines.

“Other key actions will include a review of the Poisons Act to assess whether it should cover more acids and harmful substances and further work with retailers to agree measures to restrict the sales of acids and other corrosive substances,” said Sarah Newton, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability.


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