Acid attack offenders 'could face life sentences'
16 July 2017 National News
The Home Secretary has indicated acid attack convictions could soon carry life sentences as a crackdown on corrosive substances was unveiled by the Government.
Amber Rudd claimed an overhaul of current guidelines would ensure those who use noxious liquids as a weapon “feel the full force of the law”.
“I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors,” she wrote in The Sunday Times.
Plans to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons are among the changes included in the shake-up.
The Government will also aim to put in place measures which restrict the sale of such substances by retailers.
The move follows a recent spate of high-profile incidents, including .
The UK has one of the highest rates of acid attacks in the world and a
The Home Office will work with police and the Ministry of Justice to assess whether powers available to the courts, including sentencing, are sufficient.
Possession of acid or other corrosive substances with the intention to do harm can already be treated as possession of an offensive weapon under the Prevention of Crime Act, which carries a four-year maximum penalty.
Crown Prosecution Service’s guidance to prosecutors will now be reviewed to ensure it makes clear that acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons, and what is required to prove intent.
The Poisons Act 1972 will be assessed to consider if it should cover more harmful substances, while retailers will be asked to agree to measures to restrict sales of acids and other corrosive substances.
New guidance will also be issued to police on preventing attacks, searching potential attackers for harmful substances and responding to victims at the scene.
More than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April 2017, according to figures from 39 forces in England and Wales.
Bleach, ammonia and acid were the most commonly used substances, the Home Office said.
Home Office minister, Sarah Newton, told Sky News: “The problem is a lot of the chemicals being used are under your sink and in your bathroom.
“These are readily available, so we are working with retailers and manufacturers to see if we can reduce the strength of some of the cleaning materials and we are asking retailers if we should be asking for age verification checks.
“We are examining every step of the process to see what more we can do.”
Ms Newton, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, will outline the Government’s strategy in the Commons on Monday.