A burns surgeon who treats many acid attack victims coming out of East London has suggested that the proliferation of such crimes is now at epidemic levels.
Dr Martin Niall, a burn surgeon at Mid-Essex Hospital, told National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. that acid attacks in Britain “are now at levels that one of my colleagues described as epidemic”.
He added: “Everyone, ourselves included, has been shocked by this emerging threat to public health.”
In terms of attacks per head of population, London is now the acid attack capital of the world, with a 74 per cent rise in assaults — from 261 to 454 — between 2015 and 2016......
Where are acid attacks being carried out?
London has emerged as a hot spot for acid attacks in recent years, with more than half of incidents taking place in the capital.
The number of cases more than doubled from less than 200 in 2014 to 431 in 2016, with Scotland Yard focusing on specific parts of the city.
Newham, in East London, had three times more acid attacks than the next highest borough, with almost 400 of London's 1,500 reports over the last five years happening there.
Demography. Newham has the youngest overall population and one of the lowest White British populations in the country according to the 2011 Census. The borough has the second highest percentage of Muslims in Britain, after the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, at 32%.
London Borough of Newham - Wikipedia
Shah says two-thirds of the victims in Britain are men while, globally, most are women.
"The global pattern is very much males attacking young women and girls, relating to rejected sexual advances or marriage proposals or dowry-related attacks," he says.
Metropolitan Police figures obtained by the BBC show men are twice as likely to be victims of acid attacks in London than women after being linked to a number of gang crimes.
The vast majority of cases never reach trial.
Dr Simon Harding, a criminologist and expert on gangs at Middlesex University, says acid is becoming "a weapon of first choice".
"Acid throwing is a way of showing dominance, power and control, building enormous fear among gang peer groups," he says.
Gang members know there are advantages in using acid to hurt someone rather than a knife because "the charges are more serious if you are caught with a knife and the tariff for prison sentences are much higher".