East London named as acid attack hotspot and a third of victims are Asian
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East London is the hotspot for acid attacks and nearly a third of victims are Asian, a senior officer has said today.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey also said officers were looking at potential links between London gangs and a recent spike in acid attacks but cautioned that the evidence was limited.
He told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee there were 455 acid offences recorded in London last year, with 63 per cent being assaults.
He said 23pc were related to robberies and the rest were criminal damage, while the majority of victims were aged between 15 and 29 and nearly a third were Asian.
“About 80pc of the victims and about 82pc of the suspects are male so it’s a predominantly male-pattern behaviour,” Mr Mackey said.
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“East London is a hotspot ... although there are offences across London.
“We are seeing some links - although it has to be treated with caution because it’s a small data set - a growing feature between named suspects in acid attacks who also feature in our gang matrix.
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“So please don’t read that as gangs have all moved lock, stock and barrel into acid, but we are seeing a move across.
“We have hypotheses for this, we have tests that we think, ‘is it something around a focus on knives and knife crime sentencing’, but there is no evidence to support this yet. It’s just something that we are looking at.”
His comments come after a man had a ‘corrosive’ liquid squirted into his face at his home in Downing Road, Dagenham, yesterday evening.
The victim, who is in his 40s, attacked by a man he, had arranged to meet him to buy a mobile phone he had advertised for sale.
On Tuesday a man was arrested in Tower Hamlets after a ‘noxious substance’ was found in a bottle of fruit juice he was carrying.
Last week five separate male victims - all on mopeds and including a fast-food delivery driver - were allegedly targeted by two moped-riding attackers in north and east London.
MPs this week debated possible measures to counter the crimes, including tougher sentences, and the government has proposed classifying corrosive substances as dangerous weapons.
Mr Mackey said: “Officers are out there - I saw on the logs last night where they had arrested someone carrying a bottle with acid in.
“So they are out there doing it day in, day out. We are intervening, stopping, searching people, seizing stuff and making arrests.”
The Met chief supported moves in Parliament to tackle the issue, saying some of the substances are “not even defined by law”.
He added: “The impact this sort of attack has on people is extraordinary.
“Many of us have been unfortunate to see quite a bit in our services but acid attacks are really extraordinary and strike at something quite horrific in people’s psyche.”