The head of Tower Hamlets police has tried to reassure residents as fears grow over the number of acid attacks in the borough.
A protest over the attacks was held outside Stratford train station after police confirmed the case of Resham Khan and Jameel Muhktar, who had acid poured over them in Beckton, was being treated as a hate crime.
In a statement on Wednesday, July 6, the Borough Commander detective chief superintendent Sue Williams said: “I am aware of the increase levels of fear within our community in relation to the reporting of recent acid based crimes in Tower Hamlets and across London.
“Previous messaging does not appear to have reached the general public as well as I would have hoped. Social media spreads messaging quickly. I would urge any reader, particularly elected members with social media accounts, to add the following facts to assist in allaying the fears within our community.
“Police are investigating crimes that have occurred recently across east London involving the use of corrosive substances during the commission of the offence. At this stage, there is nothing to suggest that these incidents are linked.
“One of the offences, which took place in Newham on June 21, is being treated as a hate crime and strenuous efforts continue to locate and arrest the suspect. This is only the second report in the last 12 months within the whole of London of such an incident involving a hate crime link.
“In 2016, there were 455 offences recorded where a corrosive acid/substance was used across London. This year to date there have been 149.
“Of those 149 crimes across London this year, 11 have been in Tower Hamlets.”
She added: “In Tower Hamlets we have had no race/hate crime reported involving corrosive substances. There is no evidence that any group of people, white, black or Asian, is being specifically victimised. We have increased targeted patrols to combat individuals carrying and using such substances, but it is important to remember that such crimes are still relatively rare.
“The police will not tolerate any attack using corrosive and noxious substances on anyone and will bring offenders to justice.
“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of a corrosive attack to report it with confidence that you will be fully supported.”
Protestors gathered outside Stratford station on Wednesday, July 5, and held a moments silence for Resham and Jameel in a demonstration organised by Stand Up To Racism.
Aspiring model Resham was celebrating her 21st birthday with her cousin Jameel when acid was poured through their car windows as they sat in traffic in Beckton on Wednesday, June 21.
The cousins have been left with life-changing injuries after the attack, and police are still searching for Canning Town man John Tomlin for questioning.
Tensions in the borough have increased after a noxious substance, which police believe was bleach, was thrown over a man in a car in Tower Hamlets on Thursday, June 29.
The man was squirted in the face with a substance that caused a burning sensation before his car was stolen in Commercial Road, near to Watney Street.
And, in the early hours of Tuesday, July 4, a group of men attacked a man and a woman with acid in Burdett Road, Mile End.
The victims, a 40-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man, both suffered burns in the attack and the man required hospital treatment.
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