This past Saturday, September 23, three people were hospitalized and three more injured after a 15-year-old boy sprayed a noxious substance believed to be acid, amongst a crowd during a dispute that escalated to violence in east London’s Stratford Centre. As a result, business owners and politicians are teaming together in order to attempt the banning of acid products sold in stores, or at the very least license the sale to fully ensure that those under 18 are not making such purchases and the substance is not being used for criminal purposes.
The London Evening Standard reports that the Labour government does not have complete faith in the current rules set in place when it comes to east London businesses selling such substances as sulphuric acid, which is readily available in most supermarkets. These restrictions merely encourage shopkeepers to not allow under 18s to make said purchases, but at this time they do not require individuals to present identification proving their age.
Shadow minister of policing Louise Haigh is advocating for sulphuric acid to be upgraded from its current classification as a reportable substance to that of a regulated one. Right now, those selling the product are only required to inform law enforcement officials of the transaction if the person or persons buying it are deemed suspicious. Regulating the substance would mean that only pharmacies would be allowed to sell the product, as it would then require a license. Cabinet ministers, she and other members of parliament feel, have been dragging their feet when it comes to this matter and neglecting to pay tribute to its severity, resulting in a continued risk to public safety.
This is not the first attempt by lawmakers to ban the sale of acid products in east London, reveals The Guardian. Back in July, ministers were seriously considering restricting the purchasing of corrosive liquids after multiple people were injured following a string of acid attacks which took place in multiple locations around east London, leading to the arrest of a 16-year-old. He was charged with deliberately causing grievous bodily harm, and was also connected to a nearby robbery.
It is not only parts of London where these horrific acid attacks are taking place; earlier Monday, September 25, The Sun gave detail to a woman having been temporarily blinded after a corrosive substance was thrown in her face the previous Friday. Two men entered the Glad Abbot Pub in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and believed the victim to be their intended target despite her having no connection to them whatsoever. This information has led to authorities labeling this attack as a “shocking case of mistaken identity.”
[Featured Image by Alastair Grant/AP Images]