01/11/2018 00:01 GMT

New Ban On Strong Sulphuric Acid Comes Into Effect Amid Crackdown

Everything you need to know as fresh restrictions commence.

PA Archive/PA Images
A bottle of strong acid seen discarded in an archive police handout photo.

New restrictions on the sale of strong sulphuric substances come into force on Thursday as a government crackdown on acid attacks continues.

People will now be banned from possessing sulphurs with a concentration above 15 percent without a valid licence.

The maximum penalty for the offence will be a two-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Acid attacks are utterly appalling crimes and we are determined to put a stop to them.

“Sulphuric acid can be a very dangerous substance. We are taking this threat seriously and are making it harder to possess and purchase corrosive substances.

“The changes we have introduced will help to ensure that sulphuric acid is kept away from those who mean harm. I am sure that all retailers will enforce the new restrictions.”

A wave of acid attacks hit the capital in May of this year, while figures showed the use of acid as a weapon in London increased by 74 percent between 2014 and 2016.

It was reported last year that the government had ignored warnings surrounding a change in legislation in 2015, which campaigners said made it easier for attackers to acquire acids.

Changes made in the Deregulation Act 2015 scrapped an obligation on sellers of dangerous substances, including acids, to be registered with their local council, the Independent reported.

Applicants for a licence need a legitimate purpose for a licence and must disclose any relevant health issues and previous criminal offences, the government said. Retailers failing to check for a licence also face two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The fresh licence requirement is part of a raft of new measures being adopted as part of the government’s serious violence strategy.