Police officers in London are being issued 1,000 acid attack response kits after a rise in the number of crimes involving corrosive liquids. Rapid response police cars will now carry the kits, which include protective gear and five-liter bottles of water, to allow officers to give immediate treatment to victims sprayed with acid.
The London fire brigade will respond alongside police, because the service is able to provide large volumes of water rapidly. Pouring water over a victim can help prevent further damage to skin, but speed is critical.
Police in east London will also carry kits to allow them to test for acid and other corrosive liquids. At the moment it is not illegal to carry such substances, meaning that police have to show there is intent to cause harm.
Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, has called for carrying acid to be made a crime. Criminals who carry out acid attacks can be prosecuted for grievous bodily harm and jailed for life.
Police say there is anecdotal evidence that young criminals, including gang members, are carrying acid following legislation introduced in 2015 that means an immediate jail term for a repeat offense of carrying a knife, the Guardian reports.