The United Kingdom will limit sales of sulfuric acid and prohibit the sale of acidic substances to children following a sharp rise in attacks, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said.
“We are going to stop people carrying acid in public if they don’t have a good reason,” Rudd said on Tuesday while speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
“Acid attacks are absolutely revolting. You have all seen the pictures of victims that never fully recover. Endless surgeries. Lives ruined. So today, I am also announcing a new offence to prevent the sale of acids to under-18s,” she said.
“Furthermore, given its use in the production of so-called ‘mother of Satan’ homemade explosives, I also announce my intention to drastically limit the public sale of sulfuric acid,” she added.
A dramatic rise in acid attacks across the UK has prompted the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to review lax laws that let assailants get away with the hideous crime.
The number of reported assaults involving acid and other corrosive substances across the UK has nearly trebled over the past four years, going from 248 cases in 2012 all the way up to 720 in 2016, according to reports.
London has become a hotspot for such assaults. Last year, 431 attacks were reported in the British capital, up from the 261 cases reported a year earlier. Official figures put the number of acid attacks at around 1,500 since 2011.
An alarming number of the attacks so far have been attributed to Islamophobia, in the wake of a steep rise in hate crime attacks against Muslim communities.
Acid attack victim Adele Bellis, who lost an ear and suffered deep burns on her face and body after being doused with sulfuric acid in 2014, is one of the victims that have opened up about the lack of punishment for those who commit the crime.
The man who injured her has been already released from jail after serving half of his jail sentence of four year and four months.
The UK home secretary has previously said that the government would launch a review on tougher punishments because those found guilty should "feel the full force of the law."