Shopkeepers urged to sign Tower Hamlets ‘acid charter’ to stop sales of corrosives to under 18s
- Credit: Archant
Shopkeepers in Tower Hamlets are being urged to ban the sale of acid or corrosive household products over the counter to customers under 18 or without proper proof of identity.
Traders are being asked to sign up to an ‘acid charter’ which is being launched this afternoon by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
Acid attack victims include 32-year-old Jabed Hussain who was targeted as he pulled up at the lights in Hackney Road.
The delivery driver was on his way home to Brick Lane on his moped when he had acid thrown at his face.
Only his crash helmet saved him from blindness and permanent scaring - the helmet melted in the attack.
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“I felt burning on my face,” Jabed recalled this week.
“I sat on the pavement hopelessly crying with the burning getting worse.”
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A couple passing by got water from a late night shop to bathe his wounds and called an ambulance.
“I needed water desperately and thought my face was gone,” Jabed told the East London Advertiser.
“I had seen on the news about using water and knew what to do. I had to keep dousing myself with more and more water.
“The ambulance crew didn’t have the right equipment.”
Jabed was kept in the Royal London Hospital overnight but was lucky his skin tissue repaired without disfigurement, because of his crash-helmet protecting him.
“My hood was burned and the helmet melted,” he added. “It may have saved my life because the acid would have landed on my head.”
There were four other acid attacks in east and north London that evening.
Jabed has joined the Mayor’s campaign to restrict over-the-counter sales.
Shops and stores have been sent warning letters by the Mayor’s Office about selling ammonia and corrosives.
Mayor John Biggs said: “We need shopkeepers to be more responsible. Minors should not be allowed to buy corrosives.
“Young men using corrosives to commit offences provoke fear and have created such public disgust and shock—it’s unacceptable.
“We need tougher regulations to be reintroduced on package and sales.”
There have been 150 acid attacks in London so far this year and 450 last year.
Today’s voluntary charter follows a September public meeting at Whitechapel’s Osmani centre which called for regulations to restrict corrosives sold over the counter. But the mayor is taking it further.
“Ambulances need to be better equipped and have specific training,” he urged. “Legally it’s the fire service responsible for any chemical attack who have the equipment. But we need paramedics to be equipped and trained to deal with corrosive substances as well.”
Police patrols in the Met’s Tower Hamlets division now carry ‘noxious substance’ kits to deal with emergencies, the Osmani centre public meeting heard.
Det Supt Mark Broom said: “Patrol cars have been equipped with gauntlets, masks and water to treat any victim as soon as possible because we are often the first to turn up at these incidents.”
The meeting coincided with a photo exhibition of acid attack survivors around the world showing severe facial scaring, staged at the Leyden Gallery in Spitalfields in September by the Acid Attacks Survivors International charity.
Victims are advised to douse themselves in water as the best way to limit any skin damage - which is what saved Jabed Hussain from permanent disfigurement.