East Ham MP to call for tighter laws on corrosive substances following acid attacks

Stephen Timms will also ask for stop and search guidelines to be reviewed

A Labour MP is to call for tighter restrictions on purchasing and carrying corrosive substances, following five acid attacks in London last night.

Two men on mopeds attacked people in north and east London between 10.30pm and midnight on Thursday.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms – who was already scheduled to lead a parliamentary debate on Monday on the recent rise of acid attacks – told BBC Radio Four’s today programme he will push to have carrying acid criminalised and sentencing guidelines for acid attacks reviewed.

He also wants purchasing sulphuric acid, which is commonly sold to clear drains, to require a licence.

Timms said:

“Carrying acid in itself should be an offence in the same way that carrying a knife was made an offence a few years ago. I think that has been a pretty effective change and the same change should be made for acid.

“Simply walking round the street with a bottle of sulphuric acid – that should be an offence.”

Currently, carrying sulphuric acid is only against the law if police can prove intent to cause harm.

Timms denied new legislation would make things difficult for people with a legitimate use for sulphuric acid, again drawing parallels with knives and knife crime.

“Many people do use sulphuric acid for DIY, for drain clearing, purposes of that kind,” he said, “but just as it’s perfectly lawful to buy a knife for use in your kitchen at home… and for it to be wrapped up and safe to carry, that’s fine.”

The Metropolitan Police said one victim had been left with “life-changing” injuries after the attacks on Thursday, which happened across Islington, Stoke Newington and Hackney.

The most recent attacks come just days after a man appeared in court accused of throwing acid at a woman out celebrating her 21st birthday.

Resham Khan, 21, and Jameel Muhktar, 37, were hospitalised in the attack in Beckton, east London. The pair have since said they believe the attack was an Islamophobic hate crime.

In light of recent events, Timms also called for stop and search guidelines to be reviewed. He said:

“I think it is right to look at the circumstances in which it’s appropriate for people to be searched and there has been a debate on this in recent months.

“Of course care is required with how one would make such a change but I think there is a case for having another look at that.”

Charlotte England is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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