Britain to limit acid sales after steep rise in assaults

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MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Britain will limit sales of sulphuric acid and outlaw the sale of such corrosive substances to children after a spate of assaults and its possible use to make bombs, interior minister Amber Rudd said on Tuesday.

Much to public alarm, the number of incidents where assailants have used acid has risen sharply, with police figures suggesting there had been more than 400 corrosive substance attacks in the six months to April this year.

Many victims were left with serious, life-changing injuries as a result.

The proposed new laws will make it illegal to sell the most harmful corrosive substances to under-18s while the carrying of acid in public without good reason will be banned.

“Acid attacks are absolutely revolting,” Home Secretary Rudd told party activists at the Conservative Party Conference in the northern English city of Manchester. “You have all seen the pictures of victims that never fully recover; endless surgeries, lives ruined.”

Rudd said she also intended to “drastically” limit the public sale of sulphuric acid because of its use in making the highly volatile triacetone triperoxide (TATP), known as “mother of Satan”, which is often used as a detonator in home-made explosives.

Police say TATP was used in an attempted bombing on a packed London underground train last month which injured 30 people. The bomb engulfed a carriage in flames but failed to explode fully.

At the moment, businesses that sell sulphuric acid have to tell the police of any theft or loss, but the new law would mean anyone wanting to buy it above a certain concentration would have to have a Home Office license.

Rudd also announced plans to further restrict the online sale of knives to under-18s following a significant increase in the number of stabbings.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison