Rising Acid Attacks in England and Wales Alarming, Especially Among Women, Charity Warns
A dramatic surge in acid attacks in England and Wales has seen a concerning increase, especially among women, as reported by the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI). According to ASTI’s data compiled from police reports via Freedom of Information laws, the number of violent acid attacks spiked by a startling 69% in 2022, reaching 710 incidents, a significant rise from the 421 attacks recorded the previous year.
Of significant concern is the shift in the demographics of victims, with more women targeted than men for the first time. The charity expressed worry over this emerging trend, noting that in 2022, 339 women were victims compared to 317 men, a marked increase from the 172 women attacked the year before, while 227 men were targeted.
Television personality Katie Piper, a survivor of an acid attack, has been vocal in raising awareness about the aftermath of such assaults. Her organization, established to support survivors, serves as a testament to the challenges victims face post-attack.
The impacts of acid attacks go beyond physical harm. Financially, these incidents cost Britain approximately £44 million in 2022, with each attack averaging a cost of £63,000. This total encompasses medical and psychosocial support, as well as expenses incurred by the police, judicial systems, and correctional services.
While legislative measures such as the Offensive Weapons Act of 2019 aimed to address the issue by criminalizing the possession of corrosive substances in public spaces and tightening controls on their sale, there remain concerns over how perpetrators continue to access these dangerous chemicals.
ASTI’s Executive Director Jaf Shah emphasized the need for more rigorous measures at all levels of the supply chain, urging retailers and manufacturers to reassess their sales controls to prevent easy accessibility of these substances.
The charity’s initiative, Project Irreversible, aims to educate and raise awareness among high-risk youth about the severe repercussions of acid-based violence through workshops and a digital graphic novel.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alexis Boon and a Home Office spokesperson highlighted the importance of education to prevent such crimes, emphasizing the devastating, lifelong impacts on both victims and perpetrators.
ASTI’s report also underscored an increase in attacks in economically deprived areas, particularly in the northwest of England, prompting a call for governmental investment to address the root causes of such crimes.
The charity continues to stress that the best approach to combat acid violence is through prevention, by tackling the underlying causes and creating awareness about the life-altering consequences of these attacks.
The rise in these disturbing assaults serves as a compelling call to action for heightened vigilance, education, and stricter measures to curb the accessibility of corrosive substances in society.