East Ham MP Stephen Timms: ‘Parts of London are no-go areas due to acid attack threat’

East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms. - Credit: Archant

Parts of London are now “no-go areas” due to the threat of acid attacks, East Ham MP Stephen Timms has claimed.

He made the comment as he told MPs that the UK had “the highest rate of attacks per capita” in the world and called on the government to take “significant action” as MPs debated the response to corrosive substance attacks.

He said: “I’ve had a number of discussions with representatives of moped delivery drivers and they say there are now parts of London where their drivers are not willing to go because of the danger of attack.

“I think all of us would regard it as unacceptable that there are no-go areas in parts of London and parts of the UK.

“I think it requires some significant action to deal with the problem.”

West Ham MP Lyn Brown, who secured yesterday’s debate, said “people were living in fear” as she called for a toughening of regulations.

Ms Brown told ministers their first steps to crack down on attacks “had been positive” but added that they were playing catch-up because of a “red tape bonfire” in 2015.

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She said: “A number of changes were made to the law in 2015 as part of the Deregulation Act, the red tape bonfire.

“The Act scrapped the obligation on sellers of dangerous substances, including acids, to be registered with their local council.

“This was despite opposing advice from the medical experts as well as the Government’s own advisory board on dangerous substances.

“I fear that these changes are partly responsible for the rise in acid attacks.”

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said she would discuss with officials a proposal to change the minimum age for buying acid from 18 to 21.

It came after Mr Timms highlighted a voluntary scheme among retailers in Newham, adding: “Under it, Newham shopkeepers are asked to sign up to an agreement to challenge any customer who is under 25, and refuse to sell to anyone under 21.

“I think the Home Secretary suggested that people could not be sold acid under 18.

“I think there is quite a strong case for making that 21, rather than 18.”