The Rise of Acid Attacks in the UK



In London, 1,800 incidents of acid attacks have been reported since 2010. However, a significant rise of 70% in such attacks was noticed between 2015 and 2016. A growing number of the victims demonstrate that Britain has a bad record of attacks with household acids like drain cleaners and bleaches among the developed countries. Furthermore, victims’ fear of another attack, and trail deficiency for police often make it difficult to identify the attackers. Consequently, only a part of recorded acid attacks have led to charges being proceeded.

Host of VICE Zing Tsjeng investigates that why acid has become a favorite weapon for young criminals in London. For this purpose, she speaks to victims, police, and even perpetrators.

Jaf Shah is the executive director of Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI). He says “Two-third of the acid attacks victims in the UK are men that goes against the global trend. In the global trend 80% of the victims are generally women.” About victims’ fright of another attack, he says “There is an issue of stigmatization around acid attacks. Because of your appearance you’d be marked, but also the genuine, real threat that there might be repercussions. The issue of masculinity is probably an underlying cause for all of the countries, including UK.”

Samir Hussain is a victim of an unprovoked acid attack thrown on his face outside a cinema. Physically, his wounds healed, but psychologically he is afraid of all people. The incident changed his life, and he is not the same person.

Dr. Simon Harding is a criminology professor and gang expert, who also works on the intervention of young people involved in gang violence. He says that gangs use acids because there has been a significant crackdown on the use of knives and guns by the police. Therefore, young gang involved people are now perhaps replacing acids on knives. Buying things through credit cards rather than cash may be a step to reduce acid attacks, however, he says that improvement in the criminal justice system is extremely necessary. As, attacking with a knife is like a murder attempt, while acid attacks are taken as a case of sever body harm. So, the sentencing process of acid attacks needs more work.