Acid attacks: Teen arrested after five linked attacks in east London

Scene of acid attack

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Police received reports of a robbery in Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington, where a corrosive substance had been thrown

A teenager has been arrested after corrosive substances were thrown in peoples’ faces in five attacks across north-east London.

They all happened within 90 minutes in Hackney, Stoke Newington and Islington on Thursday night and detectives are treating them as linked.

The attacks began at 22:25 BST on Thursday in Hackney Road.

The victims were taken to hospital, with one of them suffering “life-changing injuries”.

The teenager is being held at an east London police station on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery.

One 32-year-old man on a moped was left with facial injuries after a moped, with two male riders, pulled up alongside him in Hackney at about 22:25 BST.

Image copyright
Sarah Cobbold.

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Emergency services and delivery drivers came to the aid of an acid attack victim on Queensbridge Road in Hackney

The pair threw a corrosive substance in the victim’s face, say police, with one stealing his moped and the other driving away on the vehicle they arrived on.

The Met said it was awaiting an update on the extent of the victim’s injuries.

Attacks timeline

  • At 22:25 BST on Thursday in Hackney Road a 32-year-old man on a moped was left with facial injuries after a moped, with two male riders, pulled up alongside him and attacked him.
  • At 22:49 BST a man was reported to have had a corrosive substance thrown in his face by two men on a moped in Islington.
  • At 23:05 BST a corrosive substance was reported to have been thrown in the face of a person by two men on a moped in Shoreditch High Street. The victim has been taken to hospital, although police said the injuries were not believed to be life threatening or life changing.
  • At 23:18 BST police received reports of a robbery in Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington, where a corrosive substance had been thrown. Officers attended and found a man suffering from facial injuries that have been described as life changing.
  • At about 23:37 BST, a man on a moped was in traffic on Chatsworth Road, Clapton when two men on a moped pulled up alongside him and sprayed liquid in his face, before stealing his vehicle. The victim was taken to an east London hospital.

Attacks on the rise

The Met said enquiries were ongoing.

The number of acid attacks in the capital has risen dramatically in recent years.

The Met’s own figures show there were 261 acid attacks in 2015 rising to 458 last year.

So far this year, excluding Thursday night, the Met has recorded 119 such attacks.

Shadow Home Secretary and Stoke Newington MP Dianne Abbott responded to news of the attacks tweeting: “More terrible acid attacks, Why would you scar someone for life just to steal a moped.”

Labour MP for East Ham Stephen Timms has tabled an adjournment debate on the rise in the number of acid attacks in the House of Commons on Monday.

About a third of last year’s acid attacks in the capital took place in the London borough of Newham which is in his constituency.

Mr Timms told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that carrying a bottle of sulphuric acid without justification should be treated as an offence, like carrying a knife, adding he was “most concerned about sulphuric acid.”

‘Tighter controls’

“We could certainly come up with arrangements that would allow people to use sulphuric acid in the normal way, perhaps with the benefit of a licence. But simply walking around the street with a bottle of sulphuric acid, that should be an offence,” he said.

Home Office minister Sarah Newton told BBC 5live Breakfast the government was considering tighter controls on some chemicals in response to the acid attacks in East London and elsewhere.

But she said regulation would be difficult, as “these chemicals are under everyone’s kitchen sinks.”

She said it was clear acid was being used “as a weapon” and work had been commissioned “to understand the motivation” of people who use it to injure others.

She also said the government was examining sentencing for those who use acid to injure people.

Acid attacks: Teen arrested after five linked attacks in east London

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