Police say there is ‘no trend’ of using ‘acid’ in hate crimes in Newham

The vigil at Stratford Station for cousins Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan who were attacked with acid while sitting in...

The vigil at Stratford Station for cousins Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan who were attacked with acid while sitting in their car in Beckton. - Credit: Archant

Both the Met Police Service and borough police have issued statements to reassure people in Newham that very few ‘acid’ attacks are hate crimes.

After two people were left with life-changing injuries in a hate-motivated acid attack in Beckton, and reports of other assaults with noxious substances in the area, there have been fears that there is a spate of racist or Islamophobic chemical attacks underway.

A vigil was held at Stratford Station last night in solidarity with Resham Khan and Jameel Muhktar, who suffered serious burns after they were assaulted in their car as they sat at traffic lights in Tollgate Road on June 21.

This came just days after a man had been attacked with acid and stabbed in Canning Town, and in March, it was revealed that Newham was the “acid attack hotspot” of the capital.

Yesterday, Mayor Sir Robin Wales and Stephen Timms MP have called for tougher sentences and more stringent controls in light of recent attacks.

Now, whilst confirming that they are investigating several recent crimes in east London “involving the use of corrosive substances”, Scotland Yard said “at this stage, there is nothing to suggest that these incidents are linked.”

They repeated that the attack on June 21 is being treated as a hate crime, and that “strenuous efforts continue to locate and arrest the suspect,” who is believed to be one John Tomlin.

However, the statement stressed that “this is only the second report in the last 12 months” within the whole of London “of such an incident having a hate crime link”.

In a statement released on Twitter, Newham Police had the same message, saying “we are confident that there is no current trend of using corrosive substances in hate crimes more widely”.

They also explained what they were doing in response to the recent spate of “noxious substance” attacks.

A designated investigation team has been set up, and officers are having their training in how to deal with such crimes refreshed.

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The need to work with and reassure local people was stressed, and borough police said: “We will coordinate several community events to deliver key messages to our communities to address concerns and raise awareness.”