Acid Gaining Popularity Over Knives as Preferred Weapon of British Gangs

© Sputnik / Evgenia FilimianovaUK police officers
UK police officers - Sputnik International
Acid has become a popular weapon in gang wars in Britain because it can be purchased over-the-counter from shops, thrown from a distance and hidden easily, explains Jermaine Lawlor, a former gang member who is now a youth worker in Enfield, north London.

"Acid is a weapon of choice primarily because it is easy to conceal. You can have it on you… in a bottle, which means when the police stop you they're not going to be able to detect it," Lawlor told Sky News. 

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"Not only is it easy to conceal, it is easily accessible. A knife is easily accessible as well, but the difference is with a knife, you have to be up close and personal with your victim," he added.

It doesn't hurt that acid attack sentences are much lighter than those for some other violent crimes. Those convicted of acid attacks only have to serve up to six months in prison instead of four years for a knife crime.

Lawlor also commented that the increased use of acid is "not right," adding that "in an acid attack the person is not going to die, but their self-esteem will be destroyed, their confidence will be destroyed, and they have to live with that for the rest of their life, while the perpetrator gets six months [in prison]."

Lawlor's comments come after a 15-year-old boy was arrested on Saturday in Stratford, east London, on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, after a mass acid attack between two groups of males left six people injured, the Independent reported.

Witnesses describe how victims were fleeing and screaming "I can't see, I can't see" after the noxious liquid was thrown. 

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"There is no justice being served with these incidents; with a knife incident you're looking at a four-year mandatory, possibly life sentence if the person is killed," Lawlor said, urging for harsher sentences for acid attacks.

Acid crimes have doubled in London in the past three years, according to the London Metropolitan Police, and in the month of April alone, there were 45 recorded cases of the crime. In July, London police were issued with 1,000 acid attack response kits to help provide first aid to victims they encounter. 

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