By Rajan Simons & Harry Pamely
SR News Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that attacks involving acid and other corrosive substances in the Northumbria Police area are on the rise.
Figures obtained through the FOI, from Police forces in the region, show that attacks have nearly doubled when compared to figures dating back t0 2012.
Figures from Northumbria Police have also revealed that in total, over the past five years, 43 more men were attacked with acid or corrosive substances than women – with as many as 55 men and 12 women being attacked between 2010 to 2015 – which also shows a gender gap, with men being more likely to be attacked than women as per what the figures show.
As a result of these attacks, Northumbria Police have made 57 arrests, highlighting that there is sometimes more than one person arrested for these crimes.
However, there was no indication that these were group-related attacks, or that any of these attacks were connected in any way.
Some cases even involve substances such as heroin being used, according to Cleveland Police.
Most of the cases being recorded involve some form of bleach, with the cases using mostly legal and freely available liquids.
A study published in the SAGE journal Scars, Burns and Healing, in affiliation with the Katie Piper Foundation researchers from the St Andrews Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns, conducted a on 21 victims of assault with corrosive substances.
This was done to better understand this method of violence, support the victims and review current criminal legislative proceedings and preventative legislations in the UK.
What causes concern is that the number of victims who pursued criminal charges against their attackers was very low, with only nine out of 21 cases being criminally investigated.
Professor Shokrollahi, consultant at Burns & Plastic Surgeon and Editor-in-Chief of Scars, Burns & Healing, said: “This is a very important paper, as there has been very little data and information regarding these types of assaults in the United Kingdom.
“Whilst there is no evidence of an epidemic, and of the 250,000 burns per annum in the UK, these injuries account for less than 1 per cent, which is still an alarming problem that we need to address – 21 cases in one burns service is 21 too many.
“There is a clear need to limit access to corrosive substances in a strategic way, but work needs to be done to ensure limiting access to one substance does not simply result in a shift to a different, more accessible substance.”
All police forces we asked declined to comment further on the matter.