As set out in the Serious Violence Strategy, the Government is taking a range of action to support the police and others to prevent acid attacks. This is based on the action plan announced in July 2017 which is focused on ensuring effective support to victims and survivors, supporting effective policing, ensuring that the legislation is understood and consistently applied, and restricting access to acids and other harmful corrosive products.
We are working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council on delivery to ensure that the policing response is effective to prevent attacks from happening in the first place, but also in providing support to victims where they do. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has developed appropriate training for officers, including first responder training, specialist investigative guidance to help police officers understand how to safely recover and handle any evidence at the scene and the evidence required to build a case for prosecution.
We are also strengthening the powers available to the police through the Offensive Weapons Bill which is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill includes legislative measures on stopping the sale and delivery of corrosive products to under 18s and making it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place.
Alongside this, the Home Secretary announced on 20 February 2019 that we will be extending stop and search powers for corrosive substances to allow the police to be able to enforce the new possession offence effectively.
We are also working with the Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to develop corrosive testing kits for the police to support them in situations where they believe that a suspect is carrying a corrosive substance in public.
In addition, the Government has commissioned the University of Leicester to examine what motivates offenders to carry and use acid and other corrosive substances in violent attacks. The research findings are expected to be available later this year, and these will help to inform further preventative and enforcement responses.