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Why are criminals turning to acid for attacks?

14 July 2017 National News

Corrosive fluid comes in many forms and it is not difficult to understand why it’s used as a weapon.

Sulphuric acid, bleach, drain unblocker – they are all cheap, readily available and have devastating effects on victims.

Terrorists have shown recently that you don’t need to build bombs, or buy automatic weapons to kill and maim. You can create carnage by driving a stolen or hired vehicle into crowds.

So, too, ordinary criminals, who need to do nothing more complicated than pop into a corner shop or DIY store or empty a car battery to get their hands on a ready-made weapon that will cause real harm.

Acid attacks have been used for personal revenge, particularly against women in the Muslim community, where victims will carry their disfigurement as a constant reminder to themselves and others.

Image: Resham Khan, 21, was attacked when acid was sprayed through a car window in London

For years in Britain it was a regular tactic of armed robbers who would squirt, or threaten to squirt, ammonia from a squeezey bottle into the faces of terrified guards.

But corrosive fluid of one sort or another has also been used in murders, rapes and gang attacks.


And it’s on the increase: last year the number of reported acid attacks in London increased by 74% to 458. Since 2010 there have been 1,800.

There was a similar rise in the West Midlands and a national increase of 30%.

A teenager told the Sun newspaper this year: “It’s easy to buy and will mess someone up good. I feel safer carrying it to school.

“For a fiver you get drain cleaner, or you can buy ammonia for £3 and keep it in a drinks bottle.”

Cressida Dick talks to London Assembly

Video: Acid attacks ‘not happening all the time’


Campaigners have called for such household products to be made weaker or thicker to prevent criminal use.

And they recommend that all purchasers should have to register their personal details.

None of that will come in time to bring a sudden halt to the current growing trend of acid attacks which, until around 10 years ago, were rare crimes in the UK.

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