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The retail chains Wickes, B&Q, Screwfix, Wilko, The Co-op, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco, John Lewis and Homebase have signed voluntary commitments on the responsible sale of corrosive substances.
Home Office Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Acid attacks have a devastating impact on their victims, leaving both emotional and physical scars. I’m pleased that so many of the UK’s major retailers are joining our fight to combat this scourge and signalling they are committed to selling acids responsibly. This is the next step of our acid attacks action plan that has already seen us consult on new laws to restrict young people’s access to acids. It is also vital we gain an insight into the motivations and behaviours of those who carry out these unspeakable attacks, which is why we have commissioned a major piece of research that will help us understand more about this crime.”
The voluntary commitments meant that retailers agree not to sell products to those under 18 that contain potentially harmful levels of acid or corrosive substances – including applying Challenge 21/25 policies when asking for age identification, staff supported by till alerts, supervision and inclusion of these products in age restricted sales training. Equivalent age restriction measures are applied to products sold online. And the retailers agree to comply with the Poisons Act and promote awareness to staff and what this means for the sale of products which contain levels of acid and other corrosive substances which are either regulated or reportable under the Act.
The University of Leicester, commissioned by the Home Office, is to research the motivations of offenders who carry and use acid in violent attacks, through case file analysis and interviews with serious violent offenders in prisons. Prof Teela Sanders from Leicester’s Department of Criminology said: “The Home Office also recently concluded its consultation on proposals to ban the sale of products containing the most harmful corrosive substances to under 18s, make it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place without good reason and introduce minimum custodial sentences for those repeatedly caught carrying acid without good reason.”
For more details visit the Home Office website.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s action on reducing the availability of corrosive substances to under-18s and support a future regulatory age restriction on these products. Convenience stores do not typically sell products that contain harmful levels of acid or corrosive substances, but we will be updating our guidance to retailers to make them of existing regulatory requirements and the Home Office’s suggested voluntary commitments.”
For Home Office guidance on supplying explosives precursors and poisons click here.