Police have revealed that Britain is one of the world’s worst countries for acid attacks, with more than 800 now recorded each year.
In the six months to April, more than 400 assaults using acid and other corrosive substances were reported — an average of two a day — but officers say this figure is likely just a fraction of the total number of acid attacks really taking place on Britain’s streets.
“The UK now has one of the highest rates of recorded acid and corrosive substance attacks per capita in the world and this number appears to be rising,” reported Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on acid attacks.
While the number of attacks reported in Britain now far outstrips official figures for India and other southeast Asian countries where acid throwing has a history of being used as a form of punishment or revenge in family and personal conflicts, Kearton explained that this is partly due to the lack of comprehensive records in these countries.
Rising tide of London acid attacks https://t.co/8ycVDfWqb9
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“It appears that in 2017 we will again exceed previous records for the number of attacks [but] I strongly feel that this is an under-reported crime at this time,” she told a briefing in London, where she said hospitals are treating far more injuries from corrosive liquids than are being reported to police.
“People in a domestic situation who are afraid of reprisals”, and “young gang members who are worried about a comeback if they speak to police” are among the types of victims officers believe are reluctant to come forward about attacks, Kearton said.
The assistant chief constable, who is leading research into patterns of acid attacks, said that while cases previously tended to be carried out as incidents of domestic violence, “the trend of escalation appears to be more within males, and they appear to be of a younger age profile, currently showing at 26-35.”
Reporting in March on the soaring number of acid attacks taking place in London, the BBC said figures show that the vast majority of cases never reach trial, with around 74 per cent of investigations having had to be wound down since 2014 due to problems with identifying perpetrators, or victims being unwilling to press charges.
While such attacks are not confined to any one community in Britain, figures suggest they are concentrated in areas which have been subject to high levels of immigration.