UK

Acid Attacks Soar As Household Items Are A 'Cheaper Alternative' To Gun And Knives

14/01/2016 11:57 GMT | Updated 14/01/2016 12:59 GMT

Bleach poured on a young girl, a person’s face doused with nail varnish remover and set alight and hot oil and sugar thrown over another person - these are somethe horrific uses of household items in violent assaults, revealed by police, as new figure show acid attacks are soaring.

Attacks using acid and other corrosives have risen by 30% over the last two years, new figures obtained by the Press Association have shown.

One acid attack victim said he believed criminals were using corrosive substances as a "cheaper alternative" to guns and knives.

Wayne Ingold, 57, had sulphuric acid thrown at his face at his block of flats in Witham, Essex, in 2014 in a case of mistaken identity.

wayne ingold

Wayne Ingold was attacked in a case of mistaken identity

The father of two said: "There has to be a stronger deterrent because these crimes are on the rise. It's got ridiculous now. One day someone will get killed.

"We had gun crime and knife crime - acid seems to be a cheaper alternative. How would these people feel if a member of their family was the victim?"

Police have recorded more than 500 offences in which people were injured or threatened with harmful substances since 2012, the Press Association found through a Freedom of Information request.

This included 242 reports of violent crime which mentioned acid or other corrosive substances, across 23 police forces, in 2014 and 2015, compared with 186 alleged offences in 2012 and 2013.

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Jaf Shah, director of the Acid Survivors Trust International, said: "The British Government needs to look into this subject with far greater seriousness to understand why these attacks are occurring and what can be done to prevent them occurring.

"The Colombian government is taking action due to a huge public outcry which in turn led to changes in the law including tighter control on sale of acids and tougher sentencing of attackers. The fact that the majority of victims in the UK are men goes against the global pattern where women tend to be victims."

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said violent crimes involving corrosive substances were on the rise in the UK and there were concerns that incidents were not being reported.

bleach

Household items such as bleach have been used in attacks

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke, the NPCC's lead on violence and public protection, said: "The use of corrosive substances to commit acts of violence is something that we are seeing more of both in the UK and globally.

"This type of offence is extreme and generally a very personalised crime with the aim being to cause lasting physical and emotional damage to victims.

"It is virtually impossible to ban the sale of all corrosive substances as many are household products, including for example bleach and drain cleaner, and are readily available over the counter at DIY and pharmacy stores, as well as supermarkets.

"I am sure that some offences of this type are not reported as a crime to the police. Crimes such as this should not go unreported and I would urge anyone who is a victim of this type of attack to report it so that we can deal with the matter positively and sensitively."