The Mayor of Tower Hamlets is urging businesses to sign up to a new charter that promises to clamp down on sales of acid to young people.
Products containing acid and ammonia can cause serious burns, blindness and irreversible damage when they come in to contact with skin. Corrosive substances like drain cleaner have recently been used in violent attacks in Tower Hamlets and other parts of London.
Although there are currently no legal restrictions on the sale, the council seeks to run a voluntary scheme where shops agree to ask customers who appear to be under the age 18 for ID and do not sell acid or ammonia to anyone they suspect may cause harm with these products.
The council is now calling for all shops to join and sign up to the Mayors Acid Charter.
All shop keepers who sign up will be trained by council officers and provided with a notice which tells customers they are a responsible trader who will not sell to minors.
The Mayor has been backed in developing the acid charter by local resident Mr Jabed Hussain who suffered a horrific attack in July when thieves tried to steal his moped. The attack left Mr Husain traumatised and unable to work and experiences some breathing problems. He now campaigns and does fundraising to highlight the issue of acid attacks and look for solutions.
The council has written to businesses asking them to agree to not sell “One Shot drain cleaner” or ammonia to anyone who may cause harm with these products and is offering free training to businesses. For businesses supporting the charter, customers who appear to be under eighteen will be asked for identification before the products are sold.
The move follows a petition from the Mayor pressing the government to toughen up legislation on sales of corrosive substances and to make sentencing for those who offend in line with knife crime.
Mayor John Biggs said:
“Our residents are rightly concerned about the spate of acid attacks in East London. They are a despicable and cowardly form of attack, and this charter will help us to fill some of the gaps the current legislation has on sales of acid in the UK.
“Acid is becoming a weapon of choice because it is too accessible, too cheap to buy and too unregulated.
“We are committed to working with the police and local businesses because community safety is a key priority for us.”
Mr Jabed Hussain said: “I experienceda truly terrifying attack and we need more action to stop such attacks. I support the Mayor’s charter to call for businesses to stop selling acid to underage people and be responsible in checking access so that dangerous chemicals are not falling into the wrong hands.
Councillor Asma Begum, Cabinet Member for Community Safety added:
“Our approach to tackling acid attacks is part of the ongoing work by a specialist task force to prevent violence in Tower Hamlets overall – no matter what the weapon of choice might be.
“I would urge all local businesses to throw their weight behind our charter and help send a key message – acid attacks will not be tolerated here.”
Borough Commander, Sue Williams, said:
“In Tower Hamlets we have had no race or hate crime reported involving corrosive substances. There is no evidence that any group of people, white, black or Asian is being specifically victimised. We have increased targeted patrols to combat individuals carrying and using such substances, but it is important to remember that such crimes a still relatively rare.
“The police will not tolerate any attack using corrosive and noxious substances on anyone and will bring offenders to justice.
“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of a corrosive attack to report it with confidence that you will be fully supported.”
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017