Acid Offences Up 75% in UK but Only 8% Go to Court, Data Suggests

Acid Offences Up 75% in UK but Only 8% Go to Court, Data Suggests

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Acid attacks and other offenses involving corrosive substances in the UK have risen by 75% in a year but only 8% of cases led to criminal charges or a summons, figures suggest.

The total number of recorded offenses last year based on freedom of information (FOI) requests was 1,244 – up from 710 in 2022 – comprising 454 physical attacks and 790 other alleged offences, including carrying corrosives and threats of acid attack to aid other offences such as rape or robbery, The Guardian reported.

Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), which obtained the data, said the real figures were likely to be higher due to under-reporting and the fact that Police Scotland did not respond.

Jaf Shah, the executive director at ASTI, said there needed to be more focus on prevention in the same way that there was for gun and knife crime.

“The incoming government should increase funding for prevention initiatives and address the drivers that facilitate acid attacks and violent crime more generally in the UK – socioeconomic inequality and deprivation, and a lack of opportunity for young people,” he said.

“Additionally, while there are laws in place that restrict access to corrosive substances, the growing number of offenses shows that the government and businesses must tighten the enforcement of these regulations and do more to stop corrosive substances being weaponized to cause devastating harm.”

The charity says that acid attacks have historically been associated with male-on-male – often gang-related – violence, but women and girls are being increasingly targeted. Where gender data was available 50% of all victims of corrosive offenses were women, rising to 59% for threats of violence.

Of all physical attacks using corrosive substances, 18% – 81 cases – were recorded by Northumbria police in an area with a population of 1.5 million people, followed by the Metropolitan police with 72, but across a population about six times as large.

Francisco Figueiredo, a professor of ophthalmology at Newcastle University, said: “Over the last five years there has been a concerning rise in the incidence of acid attacks, especially in the north-east of England – 80% of the victims are young caucasian males and 90% of them are not reported to Northumbria police. Ammonia is the most common chemical used in the north-east of England area.

“Using noxious chemicals to cause harm, and ocular harm in particular, is becoming a popular mode of assault in the UK, and is a serious medical and social concern which requires further investigation to be able to increase public awareness, implement stricter regulations, better surveillance and means of prevention, as well as to provide adequate support to the victims.”

In February, Abdul Ezedi was found dead in the River Thames three weeks after he was believed to have attacked a woman and her daughters with a corrosive substance in Clapham, south London. Passersby and police officers were also injured as they tried to help.

In 32% of the cases covered by the FoI data, the alleged victim identified a suspect but did not support further action, suggesting a fear of reprisals.

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