Mayor calls for 'zero-tolerance' approach to combat acid attacks

17 July 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today called for the Government to introduce a "zero-tolerance approach" to combat acid attacks following a number of assaults in the capital.

Ahead of a parliamentary debate taking place today on acid attacks, Sadiq is calling for an urgent comprehensive programme to tackle these barbaric crimes.

While acid attacks are relatively rare occurrences, there has been an increase in incidents in the capital in recent months. Last Thursday night, five linked acid attacks that took place in less than 90 minutes in East London. One teenager has now been charged with 15 offences while another has been released on bail.

Recently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of recent acid attacks associated with a new trend of extremely violent and aggressive organised scooter theft. This is particularly frightening for those who ride a scooter in London.

In particular, the Mayor wants to see:

  • Tougher sentences for those who carry acid. The Mayor believes that current sentencing in this area has not kept up with developments and needs to be tougher.
  • Sentencing guidelines clarified for judges so that those found guilty of committing acid attacks get the punishment they deserve.
  • A clampdown on the sale of corrosive substances. While the Mayor recognises this will be complex as many of the acids used are common domestic cleaning products, some are more harmful industrial products which may need greater restrictions placed on who can access them.
  • Additional support for victims. The impact of acid attacks is particularly devastating given the disfiguring and lifelong scarring that can be caused. Extra emotional support is crucial. The Mayor recognises the severe emotional impact on victims of those attached and their families and will be reviewing the victim services commissioned to ensure that the right level of support long term is available. He also wants to ensure that all victims are offered the opportunity to use victim statements supporting them through the Criminal justice system, reducing their need to re-tell their attack or appear in court.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, 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. 

“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.

"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. I also want to see the introduction of tougher sentencing for those who think that is acceptable to do so.

"We also need to make sure there is better control over access to these substances. Just like a knife can be used lawfully in our kitchens or unlawfully by criminals, many of us use household cleaning products in our daily life. We now have to say to manufacturers and those in retail that they need to be more responsible and that means Government looking at a change in how these products are sold.

"It is also important that we clarify sentencing guideline for judges so that the full force of the law can be applied to those committing these truly appalling and life changing crimes.

"I encourage all victims of this horrific crime to come forward and report them to the police so they can take action."