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Islington Council urges shops to get tough on acid sales

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 September 2017

Islington Council is trying to control sales of corrosive substances in the borough's shops. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Islington Council is trying to control sales of corrosive substances in the borough's shops. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

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Islington Council is asking shops to take the lead in stopping the sale of corrosive substances after a spate of acid attacks across London this year.

Shops in the borough are being urged not to sell strong corrosives to people under 18, the Gazette can reveal – and to use the “challenge 25” policy if the shopper appears to be under 25.

There have been two high-profile acid attacks in Islington this year.

In April, a 40-year-old dad suffered life-changing injuries when someone threw acid on him near Copenhagen Street’s junction with Caledonian Road. The victim had been out walking with his 36-year-old partner and two-year-old son, who also suffered minor burns.

And in July, a moped rider had acid thrown at him in St Paul’s Road, Highbury. It was one of six attacks which also happened in Stratford and Hackney in the space of 90 minutes. A 16-year-old boy denies the offences and will stand trial in January.

There is currently no legal age restriction on sales of strong acids or corrosive substances. A letter to retailers from the council also advises: “No corrosive substances in a location where it can be stolen, such as your shop entrance; assess who wants to buy it and why; and don’t sell it if it doesn’t feel right.”

Cllr Andy Hull, Islington’s community safety leader, said: “Acid attacks are horrific and we support tighter restrictions on the sale of acids and corrosive substances, and tougher penalties for those who use them as weapons.

“Because of the terrible damage that acid can do when it is used as a weapon, we’re asking all shops in Islington to adopt a ‘challenge 25’ approach – checking the ID of any shopper who appears to be under 25 – when someone tries to buy acid, and politely to refuse selling it to under-18s.

“This should reduce the risk of these destructive and dangerous products being sold to young people.”

Leaflets will be distributed to shops which are believed to sell corrosive substances.

Last month, a Gazette investigation also exposed how easily acid could be purchased from mainstream websites such as Amazon. We were able to buy three bottles of super-strength drain cleaner for just under £15 – with no checks made. The substance burned straight through a t-shirt and charred a steak.

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