The number of reported assaults involving acid and other corrosive substances across the UK have nearly trebled over the past four years, going from 248 cases in 2012 all the way up to 720 in 2016, The Daily Mirror reported Sunday.
London has become a hotspot for such assaults. Last year, 431 attacks were reported in the British capital, up from the 261 cases reported a year earlier. Official figures put the number of acid attacks at around 1,500 since 2011.
The latest wave of acid attacks hit London on Thursday, when five men were assaulted over a 70-minute period.
An alarming number of the attacks so far have been attributed to Islamophobia, in the wake of a steep rise in hate crime attacks against Muslim communities.
Acid attack victim Adele Bellis, who lost an ear and suffered deep burns on her face and body after being doused with sulfuric acid in 2014, is one of the victims that have opened up about the lack of punishment for those who commit the crime.
The man who injured her has been already released from jail after serving half of his jail sentence of four year and four months.
“He definitely hasn’t served long enough. The justice system is rubbish,” she told of his assailant in an interview with the Mirror.
“I don’t feel I have had justice. I think he should have got more than 10 years at least. He was the one who disfigured me, then ran away, and then hid for eight months until the police found him. And all the time I was in hospital,” she added.
Government considering life sentence: Rudd
Signaling the government’s concerns about the growing trend, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that the government was about to launch a review on tougher punishments because those found guilty should “feel the full force of the law.”
“It is vital that we do everything we can to prevent these sickening attacks happening in the first place,” she said in a statement.
“We must also ensure that the police and other emergency services are able to respond as effectively as possible, that sentences reflect the seriousness of the offenses and victims are given the immediate support they need.”
She wrote in a separate article for The Sunday Times that “life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors.”