Five men were brutally attacked in London Thursday night after suspects had traveled around the city using corrosive materials to commit multiple robberies.
Authorities claim that the majority of attacks involved two males traveling by moped which was stolen from one of their first victims. According to CNN, the suspects were two young boys: a 16-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery and is being held at East London police station, and a 15-year-old boy who was taken into custody a bit later for the same allegations.
The attacks began at 10:25 p.m. at Hackney Road, where a man suffered a facial injury. At 10:49 p.m., another man was sprayed in the face with a corrosive material in Upper Corner. The next victim was attacked at 11:05 p.m. on Shoreditch High Street, and another man suffered a "life-changing" injury at 11:18 p.m. on Cazenove Road. Finally, the fifth victim was sprayed in the face at 11:37 p.m. on Chatsworth Road. All five of the victims have been taken to the hospital since the attack.
This series of assaults adds to the growing number of crimes involving corrosive fluids in London. According to MET police figures obtained by BBC, there have been more than 1,800 reports of these types of attacks since 2010 and that in 2016 corrosive materials were used in up to 454 crimes. That number was a stark increase from 2015's 261 attacks. The information also found that almost a third of all the attacks were carried out in the borough of Newham in East London.
Other unfortunate findings found that men were twice as likely to be attacked than women and that the vast majority of these cases don't go to trial either because of the problems victims have of identifying their assailants or an unwillingness to press charges.
Recently, another acid attack on two cousins, Resham Khan, 21 and Jameel Muhktar, 37, hit the news cycle after reports of their devastating injuries and even led to a Change.org petition. Other publicized attacks include Syed Nadeem, 44, who was hit with acid on his way out of the hospital we worked at and the mass attack on Mangle nightclub in Dalston, which left twenty people injured and two partially blinded.
The corrosive substances can be purchased in the form of household cleaners making them very tough to track or ban. The two biggest acids used are Sulphuric and Chromic, with Hydrochloric acids being used as well just to a less deadly degree.
A statement from London's police chief, Cressida Dick, described the attacks as "completely barbaric" and said, "We will arrest people, we will enforce the law as we can, and we are working very closely with the (government) to try to see if there is any changes in the law required," while speaking to LBC radio.
Dr. Simon Harding, a senior lecturer in criminology at Middlesex University, said, "The rise [in the number of attacks] is partly due to the fact some young people are switching to acid as there is a clampdown on knives and guns. It's permitted to carry bleach, for example."
Now London will have to add this crime wave to the growing list of problems facing the city. Although virtually impossible to ban, Lawmakers and law enforcement alike will have to develop a new strategy to limit and disrupt the cycle of these attacks.
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