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Life sentences being considered in crackdown on acid attackers

By Jack Hardy

The Home Secretary has indicated acid attack convictions could soon carry life sentences as a crackdown on corrosive substances was unveiled by the Government.

Amber Rudd warned that an overhaul of current guidelines would ensure those who use noxious liquids as a weapon "feel the full force of the law".

"I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors," she wrote in the Sunday Times.

Proposals to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons are among the changes included in the shake-up. The Government will also aim to put in place measures which restrict the sale of such substances by retailers, Ms Rudd said.

The move is part of a new strategy to crack down on acid attacks following a recent spate of high-profile incidents, including five assaults that were linked in London on Thursday.

The Home Office said it will work with police and the Ministry of Justice to assess whether powers available to the courts, including sentencing, are sufficient.

Ms Rudd wrote: "Today I am announcing an action plan to tackle acid attacks. It will include a wide-ranging review of the law enforcement and criminal justice response, of existing legislation, of access to harmful products and of the support offered to victims.

"We will also make sure that those who commit these terrible crimes feel the full force of the law.

"We will seek to ensure that everyone working within the criminal justice system, from police officers to prosecutors, has the powers they need to punish severely those who commit these appalling crimes."

A 16-year-old boy is due in Stratford Youth Court today charged in connection with Thursday's incident.

The teenager is charged with 15 offences including grievous bodily harm and possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, the Metropolitan Police said.

Police said the teenager has been charged with one count of GBH with intent, one count of possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, three counts of robbery, one count of handling stolen goods, four counts of attempted robbery and five counts of attempted GBH with intent.

A 15-year-old boy who was arrested at an address in Stoke Newington on Friday on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery was released on bail until a date in early August.

Five separate male victims - all on mopeds - were allegedly targeted by two moped-riding attackers.

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