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UK House of Commons to review acid attack laws

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
First responders are seen at the site of an acid attack in London, Britain, July 13, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

The UK House of Commons is set to review recent acid attacks in the British capital and laws concerning such attacks in the country.

Five acid attacks took place in London on Thursday night, raising serious concerns about a crime becoming widespread.

The Monday review will look at existing laws on the possession and throwing of acid, the response of police, sentencing, how people access harmful products, and the support offered to acid attack victims.

Police say more than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in England and Wales in the six months to April 2017, indicating a worrying increase in reports of attacks with acid or similar substances as offensive weapons.

Most acid attack cases never reach courts, and sentences for people who carry out the attacks in England and Wales are reportedly light.

A “wide-ranging” government review, following the rise in attacks, could result in heavier sentences for offenders.

UK authorities say perpetrators should “feel the full force of the law” and think apprehensively about committing such attacks.

“It is vital that we do everything we can to prevent these sickening attacks [from] happening in the first place,” said UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, adding, “Life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors.”

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd (photo by AFP)

Local media say acid has become the weapon of choice for criminals because it carries lesser sentences compared to other weapons and is easier to dispose of after the attack.

Teenager charged

British police said on Saturday that they had charged a 16-year-old boy with 15 offenses following five related acid attacks in London two days earlier, which left several people with facial burns, including one with serious injuries.

The charges included grievous bodily harm, the possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, and robbery.

The teenager is due to appear before the Stratford Youth Court on Monday, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

On Friday, British police had said they had arrested two teenagers in connection with the attacks.

Police say it is “virtually impossible” to ban the sale of the corrosive substances used in acid attacks due to their wide usage in houses and industries.

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