The Home Office has held a joint event with the NPCC to bring together law enforcement, government, retailers and medical experts to tackle the issue of acid attacks.
The aim of the event was to explore how acids and corrosive substances were being used in criminal activity – and to find ways of reducing such incidents.
The different agencies shared information over the nature of attacks and action being taken.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton, told delegates:
“The government is very concerned about the use of acid and other corrosives in violent attacks – they often leave victims with terrible life changing injuries and trauma.
“There is no place in society for these sickening attacks – and we want to work with all agencies to tackle these and prevent further victims.
“However, where they do occur, we must ensure that victims are provided with all the necessary support they require, in terms of on going medical and mental health support and support through the Criminal Justice System.”
The meeting heard there was no one driver for acid attacks, as cases covered a wide range of motivations for the attacks – including gang involvement, domestic abuse, honour-based violence, serious organised crime and random attacks.
Sarah Newton said the joint approach must reflect this – and stressed the importance of the government and other agencies working together to prevent attacks.
“The government’s approach to tackling the use of acid and other corrosive substances in violent attacks is centred on four key strands – firstly, working closely with the police to ensure that the policing response is effective.
“Secondly, we must ensure that the current legislation is used effectively and that sentencing guidelines reflect the severity of these offences.
“Thirdly, we are working with retailers to see how they can restrict access to the most harmful products and understand the current requirements under the Poisons Act 1972.
“Finally, it is important that victims of these attacks are at the heart of our response – we must ensure that there is appropriate support available to victims, from the initial medical response to giving evidence in court and beyond.
“We must ensure victims feel confident in coming forward to report these crimes and give evidence – and that perpetrators of these horrific crimes are brought to justice.”
National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) lead for Corrosive Attacks, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, also spoke at the meeting and said:
“The use of corrosive substances to commit acts of violence is an extreme violent crime that aims to cause lasting physical and emotional damage to victims.
“Police forces are dealing with a number of high profile cases in recent months – and we are continuing to collect data from police forces across England and Wales to understand the scale and extent of these attacks and develop our ability to support and safeguard victims.”
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