In the West Midlands region of England hundreds of decontamination kits have been issued to police officers to help them treat the victims of acid attacks. Some 320 kits are now in service, according to presstv.ir.
In other parts of U.K new proposals are being enacted in an attempt to enhance police stop and search powers to enable them to search anyone carrying acid in public without good reason, which has also been made a criminal offence under the Offensive Weapons Bill.
According to the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), the U.K has per capita one of the highest rates of acid attacks in the world, which have so far led to two deaths and left many more victims with life-changing injuries.
2,006 acid attacks were recorded between January 2016 and May 2018 in England and Wales.
Victims included four police officers in West Yorkshire, while one attack recorded by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2016 also saw the victim raped. However, the significant majority of attacks took place in London.
The number of attacks has been increasing rapidly, with 228 recorded incidents in 2012 compared to 601 in 2016. There is speculation that gangs are turning to acid over knives or guns as possession is so hard to monitor.
Press TV spoke to Leroy Smith, a reformed gangster who spent 20 years in British prisons about why acid attacks have become so prominent on the streets of the U.K. According to Smith, “it’s because it is so easy” to buy, use and dispose of acid, “ while guns and firearms are difficult to buy and difficult to get rid of”.
Smith added that crime always “adapts and mutates” and the acid attacks is just the latest manifestation of that mutation.
He also explained that gang members might prefer acid over knives because “a knife fight is hard work, it’s up close and personal, especially if the other person has a knife as well. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could lose. While with acid you can throw it and run off.”
His comments also concur with Dr Simon Harding of Middlesex University who said: “Acid was once a weapon of last resort but may now be the first.
“It’s used by gangs if a business deal goes wrong or someone owes money. People can have a legitimate reason for having acid.”
In response to the acid attack threat 1,000 acid crime response kits have been distributed to London police.
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd also announced plans to make it illegal to sell corrosive substances to children.
Late last month a three-year-old boy was seriously injured by an acid attack in Worcester.
Five men have been charged with committing grievous bodily harm over the incident.