Acid attackers face harsher sentences home secretary Amber Rudd promises, after spate of London attacks

Lynsey Barber
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The Home secretary Amber Rudd is cracking down on acid attacks in "wide-ranging" review (Source: Getty)

The home secretary has promised tougher sentences for those who commit acid attacks following a wave of horrific incidents in London.

Amber Rudd has promised that the government will look at guidelines for to ensure corrosive substances can be classed as a dangerous weapon and whether sentencing powers are sufficient for such offences in what she called a "wide-ranging" review.

The crackdown will also include agreeing new measures with retailers over restricting sales of acid and other potentially dangerous substances.

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"Acid attacks are horrific crimes which have a devastating effect on victims, both physically and emotionally," said Rudd.

"It is vital that we do everything we can to prevent these sickening attacks happening in the first place. We must also ensure that the police and other emergency services are able to respond as effectively as possible, that sentences reflect the seriousness of the offences and victims are given the immediate support they need."

Five attacks took place within 90 minutes across east London on Thursday evening. The Metropolitan Police have said at least one victim sustained life-changing injuries.

A 16-year-old has been charged with 15 offences in connection with the attacks, including robbery, grievous bodily harm and possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance.

More than 400 incidents of attacks with acid or corrosive substances have been recorded in the six months to April according to figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

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"Police have dealt with a number of high-profile cases in recent months and we continue to collect data from police forces across England and Wales to understand the scale and extent of these attacks and develop our ability to support and protect victims," said NPCC assistant police constable Rachel Kearton.

"While it is virtually impossible to ban the sale of all corrosive substances, we are working closely with the Home Office and retailers to determine how we can keep these products from people who intend to cause harm."

The fresh plans to tackle the crime will be put forward in a parliamentary debate in the Commons on Monday.

What will the review look at?

  • If sentencing powers are strong enough
  • Guidance for police when it comes to preventing attacks and responding to them
  • Measures to restrict sales with retailers
  • Better recording and reporting of such crimes
  • Research into the reasons behind acid attacks
  • Greater support for victims - from initial medical response to giving evidence in court and in the long-term
  • Victim impact statements collected for all attacks and encouragement of police to collect community impact statements