People entering courts asked to sip water to prove it isn't acid following Government order

Even baby bottles and children's beakers could be subject to scrutiny following recent spate of attacks

Rachel Roberts
Thursday 10 August 2017 17:51
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People are being asked to sip their own water bottles as they enter courts to prove the contents are harmless
People are being asked to sip their own water bottles as they enter courts to prove the contents are harmless

People entering courts are being asked to sip bottled water to prove it is not acid following a spate of attacks involving corrosive substances.

Judges, lawyers and journalists are also required to perform the “sip tests” as well as members of the public.

The latest measure was announced by the Ministry of Justice following calls for urgent action to prevent such life-changing attacks.

A security guard at Cardiff Crown Court told the Daily Mail that he believed the measure was justified.

“It would be very easy to conceal in a plastic bottle so when people come through and into the court we have to ask them to take a sip of their drink to prove that it isn't acid.

“One family came into the court with a little boy who looked about three of four years old and was carrying a child's beaker.

“We had to ask the parents to take a sip of the drink to prove it wasn't acid, but it was the little boy who took the sip of the drink so we could allow them into the court.”

A statement from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service said: “We take the safety and security of court users and staff extremely seriously, which is why we’re bringing in enhanced safety measures across the court estate.

“We keep our security procedures under constant review, and will always take action where appropriate.”

The new protocol comes after new judicial guidelines were issued allowing for life sentences for criminals convicted of carrying out acid attacks – even if they missed their targets or failed to inflict serious harm.

The number of crimes using acid or other “noxious substances” has more than doubled in London over the last three years, official figures show.

There has also been a less dramatic increase in other parts of the country, with fears that acid is becoming the weapon of choice for gangs in preference to knives.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced the Poisons Act of 1972 is to be reviewed following fears the sale of acid needs to be regulated. Ms Rudd has given her backing for the police to have greater powers of “stop and search” to try and stamp out the horrific offence.

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