Government moves to stop acid attacks ‘don’t go far enough’, Tower Hamlets mayor fears
- Credit: LBTH
A call for more drastic measures to stop acid attacks than the government is prepared to undertake has been made in a joint campaign by both the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and East Ham’s MP.
The government plans to make it illegal to carry acid without good reason, the same as carrying a knife, and introduce an age limit on buying corrosives.
But Mayor John Biggs has issued a joint appeal with MP Stephen Timms urging Downing Street to go further.
They want cash payment for corrosive products banned so that debit or credit card purchases are traceable.
Their demands also call for manufacturers to make products less corrosive and made thicker so they are harder to spray or throw and for retailers to register with local authorities.
A voluntary ‘acid charter’ has already been launched by Tower Hamlets Council for shops to stop selling corrosive products over the counter to anyone under 18—but the town hall fears this doesn’t go far enough and needs tough legislation to back it up.
“We have introduced the charter to restrict acid sales,” the mayor said.
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“But this is an issue which cuts across borough boundaries and needs the full range of measures we called for.”
The campaign follows a wave of attacks last summer including six moped and motor-scooter riders attacked in one night.
One victim, food-delivery rider Jabed Hussain, 32, was sprayed with acid when he stopped at the Queensbridge Road traffic lights in Hackney Road on his way home to Spitalfields and had his moped stolen. Only his riders’ safety helmet saved him from being blinded.
The young thug arrested for all six attacks that night in Shoreditch, Stratford, Clapton and Highbury admitted in court to throwing corrosive liquid with intent to disable, burn, maim and disfigure as well as robbery. He is being sentenced on March 9.
Jabed, still under medical care, has become a ‘champion’ of the mayor’s campaign with MP Timms to press for tougher legislation.
Mr Timms said: ‘‘Acid attacks are an abhorrent form of violence which have prompted a wave of fear and anxiety that it might no longer be safe to walk down the street. The public is entitled to expect government ministers to act decisively and urgently.’’
There were also calls to stop the cuts to police numbers. Tower Hamlets alone has lost 197 constables and 98 support officers since 2010.