We have seen a worrying increase in reports of attacks using acid or other similar substances as offensive weapons. Of course violence of any kind is unacceptable, but there is something particularly troubling about these kinds of attacks. Corrosive substances cause severe burns and serious tissue damage. All too frequently, victims’ lives are altered forever. Nobody should have to go through the kind of mental and physical trauma they suffer.
I have heard from victims and survivors, including from Truro, and they are at the heart of the new plan to tackle these appalling crimes that, as Home Office Minister, I announced in Parliament last week.
While mercifully there are relatively few attacks, I am acutely aware of this growing problem and I refuse to let those behind such attacks spread fear through our society. The law in this area is already strong, with acid attackers facing up to a life sentence. Meanwhile, by law, suspicious transactions involving sulphuric acid must be reported to police.
But there are ways we can and will improve. The plan I announced in Parliament is wide-ranging and a comprehensive cross-Government review of our response to this profoundly concerning phenomenon.
Earlier this month the Home Office, with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, hosted a conference which brought together a range of organisations and people united by a determination to make a difference, from law enforcement, from Government, from the medical sector, mental health experts and representatives of the retail industry. Because there is no one simple answer, this joined-up approach has informed this action plan.
And we need to make sure that when these attacks do take place, victims are given the care and support they need; from the initial medical response to giving evidence in court and throughout the recovery process.