Sadiq Khan: We need zero-tolerance approach to scourge of acid attacks

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Sadiq Khan today called on the Government to bring in a “zero-tolerance” approach to acid attacks after a string of assaults in London. 

The Mayor backed plans to bring in tougher sentences, clarify guidelines for judges and clamp down on the sale of corrosive substances.

He also demanded more long-term support for victims after six people were doused with corrosive liquid on London’s streets in just 24 hours.

He said: “The Metropolitan Police take these attacks extremely seriously and are doing everything in their power to tackle them. 

“However, we need a new zero-tolerance approach as a country if we are to rid the streets of this scourge.”


East London has been rocked by a series of horrific acid attacks in recent weeks, with five people targeted during a rampage on Thursday (Twitter/@sarah_cobbold)

Five people had acid thrown at them in linked attacks in east and north London on Thursday within the space of 90 minutes.

Then at 5pm on Friday, a moped rider in his twenties was approached in Dagenham by two men on another moped who squirted what was described as a “noxious substance” at him.

They attempted to steal his bike but were unsuccessful, and the man was taken to hospital.

The Met said the number of reported attacks in London rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016, a 74 per cent rise.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd hinted yesterday at the introduction of life sentences, which can already be applied for grievous bodily harm, for acid attacks.

She said she wanted those who use noxious liquids as a weapon to “feel the full force of the law” in the proposed overhaul of current sentence guidelines. Proposals to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons are among the changes. 

The Government also wants to restrict the sale of such substances by retailers, although this will be complex as many are common domestic cleaning products. 

The Home Office said it will work with police and the Ministry of Justice to assess whether powers available to the courts, including sentencing, are sufficient.

Speaking before MPs debated acid attacks today, Mr Khan called for urgent measures to tackle the crimes. 

He said: “Acid attacks are callous and horrific and my thoughts are with all those affected. The emotional impacts of disfiguring and lifelong scarring are truly devastating for innocent victims. 

“I am pleased that the Home Secretary seems willing to take action and I urge her to change the law to recognise people are now carrying these dangerous substances with the intention of using them as an offensive weapon.”

A 16-year-old boy was today appearing at Stratford youth court in connection with the five linked acid attacks.

The teenager has been charged with 15 offences, including robbery, grievous bodily harm and possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance. A 15-year-old boy who was also arrested has been released on bail.

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