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View from the House: Taking tough action over acid attacks

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 November 2017

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Last summer, there was widespread revulsion about acid attacks - prompted by an attack on two cousins sitting in a car in Beckton. People started to worry if it was safe to walk down the street. Many contacted their MP to express concern.

Stephen Timms winStephen Timms win

On July 20 I called in the House of Commons for three changes to the law. First, that it should be an offence to carry acid, just as it is already to carry a knife. Second, that nobody should be able to buy sulphuric acid without a licence. Third, there should be tougher, more consistent sentences when people are convicted of acid attacks.

Ministers quickly agreed to the last of these but were slow to agree to the first two. However, I was delighted that the home secretary, Amber Rudd, announced both of them at her party conference. She announced it will be an offence to carry acid in a public space without good reason. She also announced a review of the Poisons Act, with a view to designating sulphuric acid a “regulated substance”. This will mean anyone wanting to buy it will need a licence.

She also announced it would be an offence to sell certain corrosive substances to under 18s. Many high street retailers are already taking acid off their shelves voluntarily. I warmly welcome Newham Council’s initiative on this.

The government consultation on “New legislation on offensive and dangerous weapons” closes on December 9. It asks, for example: “Do you agree that it should be an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place?” See gov.uk/government/consultations/offensive-and-dangerous-weapons-new-legislation.


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