More police being recruited in Tower Hamlets’ war on acid attacks
PUBLISHED: 14:15 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:24 15 September 2017
Police recruits are being stepped up with local authority funding in the aftermath of acid attacks on the streets of east London.
Nearly 40 officers are being taken on to patrol neighbourhoods and Tower Hamlets housing estates over the coming months.
Corner shops and stores in the area have received letters this week from Tower Hamlets Council calling on them not to sell acid or ammonia to anyone they suspect may use them as weapons.
The tough moves emerged at a public meeting in Whitechapel where relatives of victims called for MPs to press for stiffer legislation.
The meeting at Whitechapel’s Osmani centre follows the attack on a young father who had acid hurled at him through a car window when he stopped at traffic lights in Bethnal Green Road.
“There was no confrontation,” the man’s uncle, Shaynul Khan, told the East London Advertiser. “The attacker just came up to the car and hurled the corrosive substance.
“We still don’t know weeks later why he did it. The family is still in shock. This could happen to anyone.”
His 22-year-old nephew, from Whitechapel’s Collingwood estate, was rushed to the Royal London Hospital with corrosive burns onto his head, face and neck.
“We want MPs to make sure the law is tight enough to deter these attacks,” Mr Khan added. “Fear in the community is high—we don’t feel comfortable going out.”
The council is now paying for another 25 police officers on top of the 14 already announced, it emerged at the meeting. The first batch start patrols on Tower Hamlets Homes estates next month, and the rest by Christmas.
Mayor John Biggs said after the meeting: “This is to rebuild policing capacity that has been lost by cuts across London. We are trying to reassure the public in dealing with crime that the police no longer have the capacity with their current resources.”
Police patrols in the Met’s Tower Hamlets division are now being equipped with noxious substance kits to deal with emergencies before ambulanbces arrive.
Det Supt Mark Broom explained: “Police have been provided with gauntlets, masks and water to treat those affected as soon as possible because very often we are the first to turn up at these incidents. We advise victims to dice themselves in water as the most effective way of limiting the damage.
Wednesday night’s meeting coincided with a photographic exhibition of acid attack survivors around the world showing their severe facial scaring. It is being staged until tomorrow at the Leyden Gallery in Spitalfields by the Acid Attacks Survivors International charity, founded in 2002, which helps provide medical expertise and training in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Uganda and Cambodia.