Acid attacks: Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms call for tougher regulation

Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms

Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms - Credit: Archant

Newham’s MPs are calling for acid and similar substances to be made more difficult to buy following a spate of attacks in east London.

Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham and Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, both intend to raise the issue in the House of Commons in a bid to combat the crime.

Their comments come a day after five attacks, all believed by police to be linked, took place in the nearby boroughs of Hackney and Islington.

Ms Brown said: “Following the appalling crime in Beckton recently and other reported incidents of acid attacks in London, I will be introducing a bill to the House of Commons to prevent this weapon from being so easily bought and sold and severe penalties for those who carry with intent to hurt, main or threaten.

“I want carrying acid to have a similar status to that of carrying knives. I know this is going to be complex because acid can be used for a number of perfectly acceptable purposes, however, I am hoping that by working with experts in the field, we will be able to come up with a formula that will work to minimise these heinous crimes.”

Mr Timms, who will lead an adjournment debate on acid attacks in the Commons on Monday, spoke about the problem on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

He said carrying a bottle of sulphuric acid without justification should be treated as an offence, like carrying a knife, and said there was a case to re-examine when it is appropriate to use stop and search powers.

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He said: “I think that carrying acid should in itself be an offence, in the same way that carrying a knife wouldn’t have been an offence some years ago.

“I think there’s been a pretty effective change - I think the same change should be made for acid.”

Mr Timms also called for sulphuric acid to be re-categorised so that a licence is required to buy the chemical, saying: “Sulphuric acid is already covered by the explosives precursor regulations introduced last year, but it’s in a kind of lower category in those regulations.

“I think it should be raised to the higher category, which would mean you’d have to have a licence in order to buy it.”