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Emergency services attend reports of an acid attack in East London's Stratford.

Acid retailers beat Bungle Biggs to action

DAYS AFTER Independent Group councillor Ohid Ahmed called for Tower Hamlets mayor to set up a voluntary register of retailers to log sales of corrosive liquids, a group of national retailers have come to a voluntary agreement to curb sales to the under-18s.

Cllr Ahmed had pointed out that with Tower Hamlets and the wider East London area suffering a high level of attacks from assailants using corrosive substances, the Council had to take action. Setting up a voluntary register would not solve the problem, but for several reasons it could help to restrict access to acidic substances to some of the youth who might want to misuse them.

While Cllr Ahmed was waiting to hear from John Biggs about his proposal, six national retailers took action. DIY chains B&Q, Screwfix and Wickes, along with supermarkets Waitrose, Morrisons and the Co-op have adopted a voluntary ban on selling corrosive substances to the under-18s. The British Independent Retailers Association will be asking its members to join in the voluntary ban.


•Read our full story:
Cllr Ahmed calls for a Voluntary Register of acid sales


Under the terms of the ban, the retailers will not sell items containing corrosive substances – such as high power drain cleaners – to the Under 18s. Staff will ask anyone trying to buy these substances to produce documents which prove their age. This mirrors procedures used by these retailers when it comes to selling solvents, spray paints, alcohol and knives.

The voluntary ban comes after the Home Office announced that it was considering banning sales of corrosive liquids to the under-18s. That proposal came as public concern about acid attacks grew after a spate of highly publicised attacks. There were 500 attacks involving acid from April 2016 to March 2017 – a number which had more than doubled in five years.

Cllr Ahmed welcomed the retailers’ voluntary ban. He’s still waiting for a response from John Biggs to his proposal on a Tower Hamlets voluntary register.

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