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Acid attacks on the rise - what is the law?

By Katrina Elsey, Michael Devlin

Published In: Personal Injury, Crime

Acid or corrosive substance attacks are violent crimes which can result in a number of long-term and serious health issues, as well as fatalities. These attacks are often criminally motivated and can result from targeted assaults, robberies and thefts.

These types of attacks can result in:

  • Scarring
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Pain
  • Skin and tissue damage
  • Fatalities

A recently reported attack in Clapham, London saw nine people injured after a suspected corrosive substance was thrown at a woman and two young children on Friday 26 January.

The family were in their car when they were attacked by a suspected corrosive substance and five of the injured were taken to a major trauma centre.

Michael Devlin, Solicitor Advocate in our crime team commented: “If someone assaults another person using acid or a corrosive substance they are likely to be charged with Causing Grievous Bodily Harm contrary to s18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This is because an assault with such a weapon means the person almost certainly intends to cause very serious harm.

“The maximum sentence for such an offence is life imprisonment. The Sentencing Guidelines which the court have to consider have to assess Culpability and Harm. The guidelines specifically state that acid is classed as a “highly dangerous weapon” and use of such a weapon automatically puts culpability at the highest level (Category 1). That means that the starting point for sentencing will not be lower than 5 years imprisonment and if the injuries are “life changing” the starting point would be 12 years imprisonment.”

Katrina Elsey, Senior Associate in our Personal Injury team added: “Unfortunately, criminals are more frequently using acid as a weapon in order to cause harm. Acid attacks are violent crimes which can cause serious disfigurement, dreadful suffering, or even death. I have seen substances increasingly being thrown on individuals or groups of people with the intention of causing distress and injury to victims which often leads to devasting consequences such as blindness, permanent scarring and extreme pain. Corrosive substances are sometimes used to perpetrate an assault sometimes using sulphuric acid and ordinary household bleach to commit these acid attacks.”

Acid attacks have increased by 69% in the last year (710 acid attacks were recorded in 2022, as opposed to 421 in 2021), with female victims exceeding the number of male victims for the first time.

If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or any form of criminal injury, our team can support you. Switalskis is here to help you navigate the path towards recovery. Our experienced assault injury solicitors are dedicated to assisting you every step of the way, offering comprehensive guidance and advocating for your rights.

To learn more about how to claim compensation for your injuries following an assault, call our team today on 0800 1380 458 or get in touch with us at .

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Katrina has over 25 years’ experience in the legal sector. She is a Senior Associate Litigation Executive in the Personal Injury department.

Senior Associate Litigation Executive
Photo of Michael Devlin

Michael has 20 years’ experience in criminal law. He is a Solicitor Advocate, Duty Solicitor and leads our Crime team.

Solicitor Advocate

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