Britain to ban sale of acids, other corrosive substances to under-18s

The move comes as more than 400 attacks using corrosive substances were recorded in the six months to April

Wadood Mushtaq
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaks at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, October 3, 2017/REUTERS

LONDON: The British government has announced a ban on sale of acids, sharp razor, knives and other corrosive substances to under-18s in the country.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd's pledge, at the Conservative Party's annual meeting in Manchester, comes as more than 400 attacks using corrosive substances were recorded in the six months to April.

She termed the increasing acid and knives attacks as a string of revolting attacks and told the party that sale of such material would be drastically limited.

The government said new laws to target people caught carrying acid would be modeled on current legislation around knife carrying, which carries a maximum of four years in prison, a fine, or both.

Speaking at the conference in Manchester, the Home Secretary said that acid attacks were absolutely revolting, adding: "I am also announcing a new offense to prevent the sale of acids to under 18s".

She told the conference that there had been "an exponential surge in the volume of child sexual abuse referrals", as she unveiled a GBP600,000 investment in new software that trawls the web for images of child sexual abuse.

“Major investment [will be made] in new technology that will track down indecent images of children online and remove them at an unprecedented rate”, she added.

Rudd called on internet firms and social media platforms to "act now" and remove extremist content online.

"This is how we will help make our communities safer as crime changes," Rudd said.

She said the technology will get the images taken down at an unprecedented rate. "Our investment will also enable internet companies to pro-actively search for, and destroy, illegal images in their systems."

She also told party activists that security services had foiled seven “new consultation on offensive weapons, which will be published in the autumn”.

New measures could include stopping the sale of knives online to someone under the age of 18, making it illegal to keep certain types of weapons - such as flick, knives and zombie knives - at home, she said.

She further said that extending the jail sentence for those viewing extremist content online would close an important gap in the legislation, with tougher sentences only applying now if people have downloaded or stored the material. “Anyone publishing information about the police or armed forces for the purposes of terrorism could now face up to 15 years in prison."

Rudd called on Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft to "honour [their] moral obligations" and build on their progress in countering terrorism online.

"I call on you with urgency, to bring forward technology solutions to rid your platforms of this vile terrorist material that plays such a key role in radicalization," she said.

The Home Secretary also challenged detractors of the Prevent programmed to work with the Government, saying it was not "some Big Brother monolithic beast".

On immigration, Rudd said there would be no cliff edge for businesses when a new system is brought in after Brexit. "I'm committed to working with businesses, both large and small, to make sure we don't impose unnecessary burdens, or create damaging labour shortages," she said.

The number of crimes using acid or other “noxious substances” has more than doubled in London over the last three years, according to official data. In the capital alone, the number of incidents rose from 186 between April 2014 and March 2015 to 397 in the same period in 2016-2017.