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BBC: Carrying acid in public could lead to six months in jail

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Chief Bakes

Carrying acid in public could lead to six months in jail

  • 14 October 2017
  • From the section UK
Acid bottleImage copyright Getty Images

People caught twice carrying acid in public will receive a mandatory six-month prison sentence, the Home Office has proposed.

It is aimed at curbing the number of acid attacks committed, which has more than doubled in five years.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she intended to ban the sales of corrosive substances to under-18s.

About 21% of such attacks were committed by under-18s between November 2016 and April 2017.

'Lives ruined'

Ms Rudd said the government was sending a message that "the cowards who use these [acids] as weapons will not escape the full force of the law".

The new legislation would make it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in public.

An individual caught with the substance would have to prove they had good reason for possessing it.

If a person is caught twice with acid, they would serve a minimum six-month sentence if over the age of 18.

At this year's Conservative Party conference, the home secretary announced plans to ban sales of the substance to under-18s.

She said: "Acid attacks are absolutely revolting.

"We have all seen the pictures of victims that never fully recover - endless surgeries, lives ruined."

Recent years have seen a number of high-profile acid attacks across the UK..

Image caption Andreas Christopheros was a victim of mistaken identity

In 2014 Andreas Christopheros, from Truro in Cornwall, was attacked at his front door with sulphuric acid in a case of mistaken identity.

He was left with permanent facial scarring and he remains blind in one eye.

David Phillips, 49, from Hastings, Sussex, admitted assault causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Christopheros said: "[The acid attack] impacted every aspect of my life.

"From the moment I've woken up, every morning it takes me about half an hour to regain my sight.

"I've lost my eyelids three times now from the contractions of the scars."

The proposed legislation on acid would mirror the 'two strikes' rule which makes knife possession an offence.

The Home Office is also considering criminal proceedings against online retailers who deliver knives to a buyer's home.

It is hoped the measure would curb the sale of blades to children or teenagers.

View the full article

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SimonT

Politicians trying to look good might make stuff up. Shocker. 

 

Acid isn't like the old 'carry a knife for your own protection or status' it's to blind and maim people. 

This doesn't even sound tough on crime. It sound like apologetic nonsense. 

 

As for proving you had a good excuse, what about needing your drains cleaned? Or that you might need them cleaned. How do you prove someone's drains were fine?

section 18,after arresting them, get a drain company to go in and produce a report?

 

Edited by SimonT

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Growley

Once again, a knee-jerk response which isn't actually going to solve the problem.. and can technically make criminals of many law-abiding people, who were never going to harm someone in a million years.



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Cathedral Bobby

Soft on crime, soft on the causes of crime. Another meaningless token which is no deterrent to offenders and poses a risk of conviction to decent members of the public.

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obsidian_eclipse

Theres already laws to deal with people who carry weapons - made or adapted. It just muddies the existing legislation and provides no bonuses at all. I'd prefer to run a file for offensive weapons (or even firearms depending) than a specific acid offence.

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PC Wannabe

The whole concept is flawed. For a start, why does it only apply to over 18's? Should be 16+ in my opinion, not 18. You're perfectly old enough to understand the implications of those sorts of actions at 16, come on now let's not baby people.

 

Secondly, banning it form sale to under 18's - again what will this achieve? What percentage of attackers are over 18? A lot of incidents I've read about have been attackers aged 18+, that's before we even get to the fact that under 18's can still get hold of it relatively easy anyway, especially if they're in a 'gang' which will almost certainly contain other 'members' well above 18.

 

What's needed is ACTUAL tough sentences for anyone who carries out an acid attack on anybody - life in jail for the most serious incidents which result in lifelong disfigurement. Sounds fair to me, given that they're willing to do it knowing that there's a very good chance their victim's life will be ruined forever. Such measures won't happen as deep down, the govt aren't particularly that bothered. So, to my mind the only solution to this rise in violent street crime then is to stop making everyday, hardworking people defenceless, easy prey, and legalise things like CS/pepper sprays in line with most other European countries. Preferably by way of some sort of licencing system to ensure the criminal element can't obtain it (or at least no more easily than they can already!). Or, if the whole licencing system thing really is too much hassle for this govt, then just legalise it full stop. Criminals will undoubtedly buy and use it but we're not exactly much better off at the moment are we, having acid thrown in people's faces leaving them burnt and scarred for life. Given that Vs. a bit of peppery liquid I know which I'd choose. 

 

I saw on a BBC documentary on YouTube the other day that the UK now has one of the highest rates of such attacks GLOBALLY, yet has some of the strictest laws in regards to self defence (what one can carry etc). Sorry to burst the bubble, but this approach clearly isn't working. Most of these attacks appear NOT to be scrote-on-scrote crimes either, they're completely random for pity's sake. On the documentary I watched the other day, one guy was doused in it for what he believes to be some form of 'challenge' to prove allegiance to a gang, why should innocent people who want nothing to do with crime/gangs be dragged into their scummy goings on, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? The UK is a complete disgrace.

 

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Zulu 22

Why would anyone need to carry acid, for what reason. 6 months is an absolute joke.

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David

Pathetic response from the government. Whatever happened to mandatory sentencing for knife carrying? Time after time I've seen people walk out of court despite having been convicted for carrying a knife - some stupid fine that won't get paid or community service that won't get done.

What bothers me is, why should it even be two strikes if caught carrying acid? If there's no good reason, get 'em inside whatever (and six months is ridiculously pathetic). Why does it only apply to over 18s? I've already heard cases of 15 year olds in possession, and they know why they're in possession - to use maliciously.

It might not halt or cure the problem, but start sentencing people with meaningful sentences and the message will get out.

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Cathedral Bobby

We don't need new laws or new sentences but instructions via sentencing guideline to the judiciary to clamp down. The police catch, the CPS prosecute and the judiciary give out sentences that truly reflect the crime. Anyone who carries a knife or acid unlawfully does so with an intent to use. That means they pose a significant risk to society and it is probably good fortune that no one has crossed them that day and ended up seriously injured or dead. This should be the starting point. Carrying such offensive weapons means people will die unless we stop them. If they are in prison they cannot attack innocent people.

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Techie1

Yeah, I was thinking the same, why two strikes.

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Sceptre
2 hours ago, PC Wannabe said:

The whole concept is flawed. For a start, why does it only apply to over 18's? Should be 16+ in my opinion, not 18. You're perfectly old enough to understand the implications of those sorts of actions at 16, come on now let's not baby people.

It more or less mirrors the mandatory custodial sentences in S1A Prevention of Crime Act for threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon. If the proposal is the exact same then a youth aged 16 or 17 would receive a detention and training order of at least four months. I don't know where the two strikes thing came from, that doesn't make any sense. 

It is still completely pointless, we already have laws to do with offensive weapons - simply increase the penalties if they aren't being adhered to. It's not like it's exceptionally difficult to prove, the receptacles these chemicals are kept in and the circumstances they're often being carried tend to present compelling evidence. 

2 hours ago, PC Wannabe said:

Most of these attacks appear NOT to be scrote-on-scrote crimes either, they're completely random for pity's sake.

That's not true in my experience, the bulk of weapon attacks are criminals either taxing, settling disputes or protecting themselves against other criminals. Use in robberies is probably the next most common, but a distant second and not to my mind common enough to justify people tooling themselves up on the off-chance.

If they wanted to be creative they could at least have included corrosive substances in the S28 VCRA offence of using someone to mind a dangerous weapon, as where the weapons are used by gangs no doubt they'll be using children to hold them. 

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David

What does it matter who carries what for what reason? Fine, criminal on criminal is one thing and I have little sympathy, however, the fact is that innocents have been and will be hurt and there cannot be any justification for anyone of any age to be carrying acid, unless it can be shown it's for legitimate purposes (like carrying knives).

Caught twice for only a 6 month sentence is ludicrous: first time, two years no messing. It should also encompass the age of responsibility -  10. Stop the sympathy, the whining 'but 'e's 'ad an 'ard life annee' and actually take back control of law and order.

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PC Wannabe
57 minutes ago, Sceptre said:

It more or less mirrors the mandatory custodial sentences in S1A Prevention of Crime Act for threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon. If the proposal is the exact same then a youth aged 16 or 17 would receive a detention and training order of at least four months. I don't know where the two strikes thing came from, that doesn't make any sense. 

It is still completely pointless, we already have laws to do with offensive weapons - simply increase the penalties if they aren't being adhered to. It's not like it's exceptionally difficult to prove, the receptacles these chemicals are kept in and the circumstances they're often being carried tend to present compelling evidence.

First off I think the point you raise about the way the chemicals are carried is a great one. If you'd just bought acid to unblock your drains, you'd be carrying it in the container its provided in, not say, a squirty bottle or whatever. That's evidence of their intentions in itself to me. I've not seen any mention of a mandatory 4 month sentence for 16/17 year olds but one would hope so. I personally don't see why they can't get the full 6 months at that age.

1 hour ago, Sceptre said:

That's not true in my experience, the bulk of weapon attacks are criminals either taxing, settling disputes or protecting themselves against other criminals. Use in robberies is probably the next most common, but a distant second and not to my mind common enough to justify people tooling themselves up on the off-chance.

If they wanted to be creative they could at least have included corrosive substances in the S28 VCRA offence of using someone to mind a dangerous weapon, as where the weapons are used by gangs no doubt they'll be using children to hold them. 

If that's your experience (I believe you're a serving bobby?) then I shall not argue with it. I do however strongly dispute the part about it being uncommon enough to negate any need for people to carry a defensive aid. These attacks seem only too common to me and that's just the ones I've heard or read about in the news - I might add without even going out of my way to research the matter initially, its there in your face. That to me spells a worrying problem, and one that those in charge seem to have very little passion for tackling. 

Besides, the UK is way in the minority in banning people from carrying self defence articles. Most other countries in Europe (and I believe, the rest of the world, but I prefer to focus more on comparing to elsewhere in Europe as their societies/cultures are more similar to ours) don't have such laws. It was indeed something I was ignorant to myself and it was actually a debate on this very forum which prompted me to research the subject and changed my opinion! The same can be said for routine arming of police, which I also now support.

To put it into context, the UK is one of only a very small minority of countries to ban people from carrying anything to aid self defence, we apparently send more people to prison than almost anywhere else in Europe, yet still manage to have one of the highest violent crime rates in Europe (and now, one of the highest rates of acid attacks globally). Something is going drastically wrong, we're either sending the wrong people to jail or the system just isn't working.

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Sceptre
47 minutes ago, PC Wannabe said:

First off I think the point you raise about the way the chemicals are carried is a great one. If you'd just bought acid to unblock your drains, you'd be carrying it in the container its provided in, not say, a squirty bottle or whatever. That's evidence of their intentions in itself to me. 

Exactly, nobody normal would carry their drain cleaner in a jif or Lucozade bottle.

Another question which comes to mind about this offence is how they will define corrosive - bleach is an irritant but not strictly corrosive, dilute ammonia won't necessarily burn but irritates the nose and can cause severe damage to the eyes. It has the makings of becoming another psychoactive substances conundrum. 

47 minutes ago, PC Wannabe said:

If that's your experience (I believe you're a serving bobby?) then I shall not argue with it. I do however strongly dispute the part about it being uncommon enough to negate any need for people to carry a defensive aid. These attacks seem only too common to me and that's just the ones I've heard or read about in the news - I might add without even going out of my way to research the matter initially, its there in your face. That to me spells a worrying problem, and one that those in charge seem to have very little passion for tackling. 

Besides, the UK is way in the minority in banning people from carrying self defence articles. Most other countries in Europe (and I believe, the rest of the world, but I prefer to focus more on comparing to elsewhere in Europe as their societies/cultures are more similar to ours) don't have such laws. It was indeed something I was ignorant to myself and it was actually a debate on this very forum which prompted me to research the subject and changed my opinion! The same can be said for routine arming of police, which I also now support.

To put it into context, the UK is one of only a very small minority of countries to ban people from carrying anything to aid self defence, we apparently send more people to prison than almost anywhere else in Europe, yet still manage to have one of the highest violent crime rates in Europe (and now, one of the highest rates of acid attacks globally). Something is going drastically wrong, we're either sending the wrong people to jail or the system just isn't working.

But then how many times have you actually been attacked? Of course watching the news is going to make you think these things happen all the time, but we live in a country of sixty million people so while they're bound to happen victims are in the minority. We do have a significant violent crime problem, which tends to be well confined to certain parts of our towns and cities and not rife across the land - what data we have suggests people's fear of serious crime is much greater than the actual figures. I have had bad experiences at various times in my life, I didn't feel particularly safe when I last travelled through some parts of London by night for instance but the best solution to that is to take a taxi next time rather than festooning myself with weapons.

A problem with carrying weapons is that it gives a false sense of security. Most average people are not accustomed to confrontation and either won't have it to hand when the moment arises all of a sudden or won't be able to make effective use of it, and then there's the concern about the sort of person who would be the first to choose to buy them - there's some very strange people walking around with Farb gel at the moment. How do we stop criminals carrying them "for self-defence", do we really have the time and effort to create a whole layer of licensing bureaucracy and might that effort perhaps be better spent keeping the streets safer so people don't feel the need to carry weapons in the first place? Will there be certain places weapons aren't allowed, like clubs or big public places, and if so will they need to search people on entry to enforce it? It just doesn't sound like it would make society more desirable to me. 

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PC Wannabe
3 hours ago, Sceptre said:

Exactly, nobody normal would carry their drain cleaner in a jif or Lucozade bottle.

Another question which comes to mind about this offence is how they will define corrosive - bleach is an irritant but not strictly corrosive, dilute ammonia won't necessarily burn but irritates the nose and can cause severe damage to the eyes. It has the makings of becoming another psychoactive substances conundrum. 

I was thinking the other day, its already an offence under sec. 5 firearms act to possess anything designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid, gas or other substance, so could they be nicked/charged for that? Particularly if it was in a squirty bottle. I speak without knowing much about the criteria for that offence however it would make sense to me. Not sure it would cover the Lucozade bottle one though. I agree with you, it sounds like it has scope to become a massive minefield.

3 hours ago, Sceptre said:

But then how many times have you actually been attacked? Of course watching the news is going to make you think these things happen all the time, but we live in a country of sixty million people so while they're bound to happen victims are in the minority. We do have a significant violent crime problem, which tends to be well confined to certain parts of our towns and cities and not rife across the land - what data we have suggests people's fear of serious crime is much greater than the actual figures. I have had bad experiences at various times in my life, I didn't feel particularly safe when I last travelled through some parts of London by night for instance but the best solution to that is to take a taxi next time rather than festooning myself with weapons.

A problem with carrying weapons is that it gives a false sense of security. Most average people are not accustomed to confrontation and either won't have it to hand when the moment arises all of a sudden or won't be able to make effective use of it, and then there's the concern about the sort of person who would be the first to choose to buy them - there's some very strange people walking around with Farb gel at the moment. How do we stop criminals carrying them "for self-defence", do we really have the time and effort to create a whole layer of licensing bureaucracy and might that effort perhaps be better spent keeping the streets safer so people don't feel the need to carry weapons in the first place? Will there be certain places weapons aren't allowed, like clubs or big public places, and if so will they need to search people on entry to enforce it? It just doesn't sound like it would make society more desirable to me. 

Over the course of my life, in high school, as a child out playing etc a few, but have usually successfully defended myself. Properly physically attacked as an adult (well, 17 year old) - only once. It was two against one so the odds were against me, however I would of had ample opportunity to draw a piece of equipment to warn them off - or if need be - use, had I had one, and maybe prevent myself a lot of psychological issues too. I've found myself in several situations of aggressive/intimidating behaviour though (e.g aggressive begging etc), the trouble is I now avoid areas in which I could find myself subjected to that type of thing as I know that the anxiety created by the previous attack means I'd be much more likely to hit out (and do God knows what damage) in self defence a lot more readily than I would of done previously, so I avoid it. I also know or know of several other people who have been attacked, the area I live in isn't exactly desirable! Its a City though, so hey what else can one expect. 

I agree it would give some a false sense of security, that's why I'd much prefer to see it done through a licencing and training scheme. I think not having a weapon may actually cause similar issues too though. I know I'd be much more likely to go overboard defending myself with fists as I'd be thinking in the back of my mind "if they pull out a knife, I've got nothing to fall back on so I'm screwed"  and although I'd have a go at defending myself with fists, I'm not exactly a professional. That can put you under greater pressure to ensure you neutralise the threat which may cause you to use force excessive to the threat you face in the heat of the moment when the adrenaline kicks in. I think that may explain why bouncers are sometime perceived as 'aggressive' or 'thugs' because of the way they often deal with things. I don't think for one minute your average bouncer is a weirdo who loves violence, but think about it, they have nothing to fall back on and so need to gain control of the situation without giving the aggressor a chance to respond (e.g pull a weapon) as its pretty much too late once they do. 

I appreciate what you're saying about the money being spent on keeping the streets safer in the first place, but that doesn't seem to be working, not that the government are spending a lot on policing the streets mind, but even when they were there was even more violent crime than there is now. Knife crime hit a peak in 2008 despite us having record numbers of bobbies at that time. I guess people just don't fear the justice system. 

As a rule weapons should not be allowed in clubs or anywhere that serves alcohol, it would be a magnet for bother. The thing is, there's absolutely nothing to stop a scrote taking a knife into a club now, so I don't really see that it would make much difference. 

Its much like routine arming of police - if the majority of other countries can manage it, why can't we?

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