Police in London are being issued with 1,000 acid attack response kits to help cope with the surge of assaults using corrosive substances.
The kits, which are already carried in east London and are now being rolled out across the capital, will include protective gear, five-litre bottles of water and medical advice on how to treat the injured.
Officers hope the kits will be rolled out to emergency response cars by the end of July.
Police in east London, which was described as an acid attack hot spot by the Met deputy commissioner Craig Mackey, will also receive test kits to allow them to assess whether suspicious bottles of liquid contain acid or other corrosive substances.
However, as it is not currently illegal to carry acid, police will have to prove those with a noxious substance were intending to cause harm.
East Ham MP, Stephen Timms, is arguing for the law to be changed to make carrying acid an offence unless a suspect can prove they have a good reason to do so.
Speaking to The Wharf at the start of July, Mr Timms said: “People who want to carry out violent crimes are thinking that carrying acid is less risky for them than carrying a knife or a gun. We need to make sure it is just as risky.
“At the moment you can just walk into a DIY shop and pick sulphuric acid off a shelf. That has to change, particularly when you look at some of the horrific injuries it can cause.”
The fire service will also respond to reports of acid attacks as they are able to provide large volumes of water to help treat the victim.
Acting detective superintendent Mike West, the Met’s lead office for corrosive-based crime, told The Standard : “We are liaising closely with the London Fire Brigade, the ambulance service, the Home Office and hospitals as to how to deal with this issue. We are all tuned in to this and determined to tackle it.”
He added: “The trend is deeply worrying, if you look at the extent of the injuries, it is a life-changing event and the people seeking to do that will feel the full force of the police and the courts. It is very clear that will be happening.
“We want to make it difficult to walk out the door with these substances or go and buy these substances.”
In 2016 there were 455 reported acid attacks in London, up from 261 in 2015. In the four months from January to April this year, there have been 114 reported attacks using corrosive substances.
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