16-year-old boy charged in spate of acid attacks

An image made available by Sarah Cobbold shows police at the scene of an acid attack in London, early on July 13, 2017. Police said that five linked acid attacks by men on mopeds in London left several people injured.

AP/Sarah Cobbold

LONDON — British police have charged a teenager with a spate of London acid attacks, as authorities considered whether tougher sentences would curb a spike in assaults with corrosive liquids. 

The Metropolitan Police force said late Saturday that a 16-year-old boy faces 15 charges, including grievous bodily harm. The boy, who can’t be named because of his age, was arrested after five moped riders were sprayed with a corrosive substance during a 90-minute period last week.

One man was left with life-changing injuries, police said. At least two of those attacked were drivers for food delivery services Deliveroo and UberEATS.

A 15-year-old boy who was also arrested has been released on bail.

Police say the number of reported attacks with corrosive liquids in London rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016. Some appear related to gang activity or the theft of cars and motorbikes. 

Simon Harding, a criminologist and gang expert at Middlesex University, told CBS News partner network BBC News earlier this year that there is anecdotal evidence gangs are switching from knives to acid. He also said there is no specific offense when it comes to acid attacks.

“It’s not prohibitive to carry bleach, you can buy it online or any DIY stores, it’s difficult to prove any illegal motive in carrying it and you can hide it or disguise it in a drink bottle,” he told the BBC.

Amid mounting public concern, the British government said it is considering increasing sentences for acid attacks to a maximum of life.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper that those who use noxious liquids as a weapon should “feel the full force of the law.” 

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Source: CBS News – World

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