Local MPs and councillors have welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement last week of tough new laws to crack down on acid attacks.
Amber Rudd responded to a spate of attacks by promising to make it illegal to carry acid in a public place without a good reason.
Stricter controls on sales will include two-year jail terms for people who illegally buy or sell powerful sulphuric acid, which has been used in the most horrific attacks. It will also become an offence to sell any acid to under-18s.
Stephen Timms MP for East Ham, had called on Ministers on July 20 in a House of Commons debate for tougher sentences, to make carrying acid an offence, and for the requirement of a licence for anyone buying sulphuric acid.
Ms Rudd, at the Tory Party Conference said the “possession of a corrosive substance in public without a good reason, will place the onus on the individual caught to explain why they were carrying it”.
Mr Timms welcomed the announcement, he said: “It is the key first steps towards getting a grip on this terrible problem.”
Senior councillors in Barking and Dagenham have also welcomed the move. Leader Darren Rodwell and Councillor Laila Butt, had written to the Home Secretary in August, voicing their concerns about the increase in acid attacks.
However, the council would like these steps to go further still and include, they want a “more consistent sentencing for those committing acid attacks, tougher action to tackle the threat and the consideration of reclassifying the most harmful corrosive substances such as sulphuric acid and hydrogen peroxide.”
Barking and Dagenham Council have also been working with local businesses to make it harder for teenagers to buy corrosive substances.
Cllr Butt said: “We received an encouraging response to our letter from Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.
“The Minister welcomed our suggestions and praised our pioneering work with retailers on restricting access to the sale of corrosive materials and our zero- tolerance approach to perpetrators who are council tenants.”
One Dagenham resident told The Enquirer: “They should ban the selling of all acids to under-18 year olds and any of them using it in attacks should be put in prison for much longer. These are really horrible crimes, awful. ”
Cllr Butt added: “As a council we are keen to work together with the Government and the Police to address the menace of acid attacks and would welcome a visit from the Minister to see first-hand what we are doing in Barking and Dagenham. We are glad the Government is following our lead but there is scope to go even further.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd made the announcement at the recent Conservative conference.