East London is the epicentre of acid attacks: Redbridge has fourth highest recorded rate in the capital
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With well maintained beards and a penchant for cocktails in jars East London is known for setting trends, but the recent rise in acid attacks is not one to be proud of.
In the past two years 528 of the 800-odd acid attacks took place in east London, with Redbridge having the fourth highest recorded rate in the capital.
The victims are usually male and in their 20s and are not thought to be targeted due to race or religion.
“These attacks are on the rise and appear to be prevalent in east London,” a Met Police spokesman said.
“We currently do not have any intelligence as to why, nor can we speculate on why there is a rise in the use of corrosive substances in crime. There may be instances of peer pressure and copycats.
“It is something we will come to understand very quickly during the course of our investigations into the incidents.”
According to police data, Newham has the highest number of acid attacks and between April 2015 and April 2017, 243 incidents were recorded.
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During the same period, Barking and Dagenham had 98, Tower Hamlets 72, Redbridge 58 and Hackney 57.
Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) is a not-for-profit charity whose sole purpose is to end acid violence at a global level.
Executive director Jaf Shah previously spoke to the Recorder about the increased frequency of offences.
“It does seem like within the criminal community acid is becoming the weapon of choice,” he said.
“It’s very cheap and accessible.”
The availability of chemicals used in acid attacks is already on the government’s radar and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said more needs to be done to combat this.
“This is a growing problem across the UK and it is clear that we need to do much more to tackle the use of corrosive substances as a weapon,” he said.
“The Met is already working with the Home Office and other police services to look at developing tougher regulations which make it more difficult for people to purchase these substances.
“We need the government to take the strongest possible action.”
The mayor also encouraged acid attack victims to come forward and promised that those affected will be fully supported.
Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, backed the mayor’s statement and said that there is no place for violence of this kind.
She said the police are taking acid attacks “extremely seriously” and are taking a zero-tolerance approach.
Following recent attacks, London Ambulance Service shared advice from medical director, Dr Fenella Wrigley, on the immediate steps to take if you or someone you know suffers a chemical burn.
She said it is important to wear gloves or use a towel so as not to directly touch the affected area and to remove contaminated clothing and jewellery.
“Rinse the burn immediately with a gentle, steady stream of cool tap water over the burn for 10 or more minutes,” she advised.
“A shower can be used if available, and mild soap can be used on skin safely. Always protect your eyes while washing acid off your skin.”
A loose bandage, gauze or clean cotton clothing should be applied to the area.
Over-the-counter pain relief can be given to those who have minor burns that do not affect the face.
Emergency care should be sought if a person shows signs of shock, they have shallow breathing or a pale complexion.
A person should also go to hospital if the chemical has burnt through the first layer of their skin or if the burn covers more than three inches.
“(Seek emergency care when) the chemical burn goes all the way round a limb or involves the eyes, hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or a major joint such as the knee or elbow,” added Dr Wrigley.
For medical advice, call NHS 111 or 999 in an emergency.