Four out of five acid attacks 'end with no one prosecuted'

Public concern mounting following spate of attacks in London

Will Worley
Thursday 20 July 2017 14:27 BST
Police treat acid attack victim's facial injury in London

Four out of five acid attacks investigations end with no-one being prosecuted, it has been revealed.

Public concern over assaults with noxious substances has been mounting following a spate of attacks in London.

But despite suspects being identified in 60 per cent of cases, the vast majority never even reach court, The Times reported.

Eighty per cent of the 455 acid attacks reported to the Metropolitan police in 2016 failed to make legal proceedings, according to the newspaper, which cited figures released through Freedom of Information requests.

Speaking to the London Assembly today, Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said only 63 per cent of acid related offences were during assaults.

“Twenty three per cent is around robbery,” Mr Mackey said, “and the rest is around things like criminal damage … acid or a similar corrosive substance being thrown over a vehicle.”

Most of the victims and suspects were male, Mr Mackey added.

He said that east London was a hotspot for acid offences, though noting there were offences across the capital. It is not known why the area, in particular the borough of Newham, has seen such an upsurge in attacks.

The key victim group is 15 to 29 years old, Mr Mackey said, adding that there are potential links between acid attackers and gangs.

Despite most attacks taking place in London, they are not restricted to the capital.

“We have seen acid attacks moving across the country,” Mr Mackey said.

He added that various noxious substances were used and often called "acid attacks".

“Some of the shorthand doesn’t fit with what we see on the ground,” he said.

Earlier this week, police in Tower Hamlets seized a concentrated alkali substance -- which can also cause severe burns -- in a juice bottle. Its owner was charged with carrying an offensive weapon.

On the same day, moped drivers staged a demonstration outside Parliament to demand stronger penalties for people who use acid as a weapon.

Moped riders – particularly delivery drivers – are believed to have been targeted with corrosive substances in order to rob their vehicles.

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