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Senior Suffolk officer demands on-street liquids testing to stop acid attacks

PUBLISHED: 14:36 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:45 08 December 2017

Suffolk assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton is calling for new legislation to tackle acid attacks. Photo: Suffolk Constabulary.

Suffolk assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton is calling for new legislation to tackle acid attacks. Photo: Suffolk Constabulary.

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A senior Suffolk police officer has called for new legislation to tackle acid attacks, similar to laws for carrying knives.

Lowestoft acid attack victim Adele Bellis believes the most effective deterrent would be harsher sentencing. Picture: James BassLowestoft acid attack victim Adele Bellis believes the most effective deterrent would be harsher sentencing. Picture: James Bass

Suffolk assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton wants on-street testing of liquids, with suspects also having to prove they were carrying the corrosive liquids for legitimate reasons.

Other proposed measures include working with retailers and manufacturers to restrict sales and make it more difficult to transfer acids to the portable drinks bottles often used in attacks.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police has stopped its litmus-style on-street testing because of issues surrounding accuracy.

Ms Kearton, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on corrosive attacks, said: “I do see the need for on-street testing.

“It might not be litmus paper, but surely we can have a way.

“If we can test people for drug driving and drink driving, we can get some equipment and technology nowadays to test it.”

Acid attack victim Adele Bellis, of Lowestoft, praised the police for taking action but admitted she fails to see how such measures will effectively halt the worrying trend.

Ms Bellis – who was waiting at a bus stop in 2014, when a man called Jason Harrison threw sulphuric acid at her – believes the most effective deterrent in dealing with the attacks would be harsher and more uniformed sentencing.

She said: “People carry acid for a reason – the first time they are caught with it they should be punished.

“My attacker got two years in prison and is already out, yet I’m scarred for life.

“How is that justice for me?”

The UK has one of the highest rates of recorded acid attacks per capita in the world, prompting the Eastern Daily Press to conduct an investigation into the sale of corrosive substances earlier this year.

In the six months up to April 2017 more than 400 acid or corrosive substance acid attacks were committed. Between 2014 and 2016 three attacks took place in Suffolk with a further five occurring in Norfolk.

While new figures will not be available until next year, Ms Kearton said: “It appears in 2017 we will again exceed previous records for attacks.”

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