New acid and knife laws to tackle violent crime


Banning the sale of acid to under-18s and tougher restrictions on buying knives online are among new measures announced by the Government to tackle violent crime.

As part of the Offensive Weapons Bill, ministers are also preparing to extend stop and search powers enabling police to seize corrosive substances.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is also expected to challenge social media companies to do more to crack down on gang-related content.

The different measures all fit into the Government’s serious violence strategy, which will launch on Monday.

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It comes after a surge in violent crime, particularly fatal stabbings, in London in recent months.

National figures show police in England and Wales recorded a rise of a fifth in knife and gun crime in the year to September.

The Offensive Weapons Bill will be introduced within weeks and will also make it a criminal offence to possess a corrosive substance in public without good reason.

In addition, there will be a minimum custodial sentence for those convicted of a second offence of possession.

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The Home Secretary said: “I see no good reason why any young person should be carrying a corrosive substance in the street.

“So I am also announcing that we will consult on extending stop and search powers to include acid.

“Stop and search is a vital policing tool and officers will always have the Government’s full support to use these powers properly.”

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Rachel Keaton, from the National Police Chiefs Council, is the lead on corrosive substances.

She said: “We have seen an increase in violence. We’ve heard a lot about that recently, and individuals who are prepared to use violence are looking for whatever method they can.

“This at the moment is an area which is less regulated than others, such as knife crime, and we have seen an increase in the carrying of acid and the use of it in attack.

“It does have incredibly harmful effects on people.”

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Andreas Christopheros was attacked with acid on his doorstep in a case of mistaken identity in 2014.

He told Sky News the new Government legislation does not go far enough, with most acid attacks being committed by over-18s.

“I have been pushing for some time now for a decanting legislation where it would become an offence to decant acid from its original well-labelled bottle into any other receptacle,” he said.

“Therefore if you are caught on the stop and search powers you should automatically face jail time. That is a deterrent for people carrying acid.

“The situation we are in now where you can be caught twice and still you can get out of it if you have good reason – that doesn’t add up. You don’t need to carry acid.”

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He continued: “I don’t believe that an age restriction is a big enough deterrent.

“I would still stand by the fact that sentencing is the ultimate deterrent. Anyone who crosses that line should be facing life with a minimum term of 20 years.”

Other measures the Home Office is planning to introduce include stopping knives being sent to residential addresses when bought online, banning the possession of a knife on a further education premises, banning rapid-firing rifles, and updating the definitions of a flick-knife to reflect changing weapon designs.

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The serious violence strategy will also look at how social media can drive crime and look at preventative action, such as banning violent gang content, with Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick having warned that trivial online disputes can escalate “within minutes”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “The Tories need to put their money where their mouth is, give the police the resources they need to keep people safe and pursue a collaborative approach to tackling violent crime on our streets.”

From – SkyNews


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