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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10337: Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 14 July 2017

To ask the Scottish Government how many acid attacks there have been in each of the last five years, and what action it is taking to reduce the number of and prevent such attacks.

Answered by: Michael Matheson 10 August 2017

Information on the number of acid attacks over the last five years is not held centrally. Where someone uses acid or other corrosive substances to attack another person, a range of general criminal offences can be used to prosecute including the common law of assault. The statistics for assault held do not differentiate when corrosive substances have or have not been used.

The Scottish Government is committed to doing whatever it can within our powers to ensure our communities are safe from harm. This includes any steps that can be taken in relation to the availability of corrosive substances that can have such real and lasting harm if used against another person or property.

The UK Government has announced plans to prepare an action plan to tackle the use of acid or other corrosive substances in violent attacks. This follows a spate of such incidents in London. The action plan focuses on:

Effective law enforcement;

Ensuring legislation covering the use of acid and other corrosives in attacks is understood and consistently applied;

Working with retailers to restrict access to acids and other very harmful products; and

Ensuring effective support for victims through both the Criminal Justice System and health services.

Along with considering the operation of the criminal law of Scotland in this area, I can advise that the Scottish Government will be working closely with the UK Government on such issues as the online sales of corrosive substances as it is apparent that effective steps in that specific area will need to be taken on a consistent basis across the whole of the UK if possible.