Acid to be classed a ‘highly dangerous weapon’

Acid is to be classed as a “highly dangerous weapon” for the first time under new sentencing guidelines after a surge in attacks.

Official guidance for courts has been updated to allow judges to impose tougher punishments on people caught carrying corrosive substances in public.

Guidelines, which come into force in June, now state that a “highly dangerous weapon” includes a “corrosive substance such as acid”.

People who threaten with “knives or highly dangerous weapons… will always receive sentences greater than six months,” the Sentencing Council said.

A teenager who launched an acid attack on a girl for dating her ex-boyfriend has been released from jail after serving a quarter of her sentence.

Image: The injuries of Molly Young who was targeted in an acid attack

Criminals caught carrying acid in public for a second time face a minimum six-month jail term, with under-18s being told they will be handed a four-month detention and training order.

The guidelines also spell out how under-18s could face tougher punishments if they film their crimes to post them on social media.

Public concern over the use of acid as a weapon has intensified following a spate of recent incidents.

Arthur Collins, the ex-boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann, was jailed in December for 20 years for an acid attack in a nightclub which injured at least 22 people.

Arthur Collins

Image: Arthur Collins was jailed for an acid attack

On Monday, John Tomlin is due to be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court for a horrific acid attack on two cousins in Beckton, east London, last June.

One of the victims, Jameel Muhktar, told Sky News the assault had “destroyed” his life and he remained in “severe pain” months afterwards.

Stores selling products containing dangerous levels of corrosive substances were asked to sign up to a voluntary ban for under-18s in January under a new government plan.

Jameel Mukhtar, who was badly injured in an acid attack

Video: Victim: ‘It’s been a struggle since I’ve been out’

Some of the country’s largest retailers including Wickes, B&Q, Screwfix and Tesco signed up to the list of commitments, which includes checking the age of buyers both in store and online.

The Home Office said it was making good progress on implementing its action plan to tackle the use of corrosive substances in violent attacks.

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A spokesman added: “We will shortly announce our response to last year’s consultation on new legislation banning sales of corrosives to under-18s and introducing a new offence for possessing corrosive products in a public space.

“In the meantime we have put in place a set of voluntary commitments with retailers to restrict access to most harmful products.”

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