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Roll out of acid charter goes from strength to strength

75 per cent of businesses contacted by the council have thrown their weight behind the Mayor’s Acid Charter as it continues to be rolled out across the borough.

Retailers signing up to the charter have promised not to sell corrosive products to under 18s and to ask for identification from people who look younger than 25 before the substances are sold.

During a ‘week of action’, council officers gave shop keepers guidance on how to sell corrosive products responsibly and gave them window notices telling customers they won’t sell to minors.

Poplar DIY, E14 0BB was one of the first businesses to sign up to the charter. It is also one of the first to start stocking a gel that works on blocked drains but doesn’t contain acid and can’t be thrown like a liquid in an attack. 

David Doughty, 50, who owns the business said: 
“We want to do our part in making it more difficult for these products to end up on the streets. We took the products away from the windows so they’re not easily visible and we have put them behind the counter so it can’t be stolen. 
“We wouldn’t risk someone getting hurt for the sake of a sale. We already ask people what they intend to use the products for and take their address – but it is common sense to support the Mayor’s Acid Charter.”  

Mayor John Biggs said:
“We are committed to doing all we can to ensure that corrosive substances are sold responsibly in Tower Hamlets.  
“I would urge all businesses to sign up to the charter and help prevent opportunities for caustic substances to be used in cowardly attacks. 
“We will continue to work with the police and local businesses because community safety is a key priority for us.”

The introduction of the charter follows a petition from the Mayor pressing the government to toughen up legislation on sales of corrosive substances and to make sentencing for those who offend in line with knife crime.

Products containing acid and ammonia can cause serious burns, blindness and irreversible damage when they come in to contact with skin. Corrosive substances like drain cleaner have recently been used in violent attacks in Tower Hamlets and other parts of London.

Councillor Asma Begum, Cabinet Member for Community Safety added:

“We have a specialist task force in place to prevent violence in Tower Hamlets – no matter what the weapon of choice might be.
“I would urge all local businesses to throw their weight behind our charter and help send a key message – acid attacks will not be tolerated here.”

Sue Williams, Borough Commander said:

“Police take seriously all crimes involving noxious substances including Acid. We have worked closely with criminal justice partners to ensure that offenders are brought to justice and that we secure convictions at court. 
“Tower Hamlets has not had a hate crime or racial incident involving a noxious substance recently but we recognise the fear that is caused by heightened media when an incident occurs. We support the council’s initiative to get businesses to sign up to the charter.”

For advice about selling corrosive substances responsibly, contact Trading Standards on 020 7364 5008.

To report suspicious behaviour by someone buying or attempting to buy corrosive substances, contact the ASB Hotline Line on 0800 917 5918.

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For more information, contact susan.mulligan@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 7364 6958.