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Hackney traders to stop selling corrosive substances to kids after rise in acid attacks

PUBLISHED: 13:14 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 02 August 2017

The poster shops have agreed to put on their windows.

The poster shops have agreed to put on their windows.

Archant

Hackney’s shopkeepers are among the first in Britain to voluntarily stop selling corrosive substances to kids after a spike in acid attacks.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has warned other councils and landlords about two former contractors. Picture: Polly HancockMayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has warned other councils and landlords about two former contractors. Picture: Polly Hancock

A spate of incidents this summer, including six attacks in one night across Hackney, Islington and Stratford last month, has spurred the town hall into action.

They say the Home Office isn’t moving fast enough on its “action plan” and has taken the initiative by asking traders to stop selling drain cleaner and other corrosive substances to anyone under 21.

Some traders have already signed up to a pilot and put up signs in their windows telling kids they won’t be served. Now the town hall is rolling out the programme across the borough.

Shopkeepers have also been asked to report to the council anyone who looks “suspicious” trying to buy corrosive substances, but to avoid putting themselves in danger they won’t be blocking sales unless people are under age.

Youth outreach worker Gwenton Sloley has spoken out about the need to educate youngsters about the consequences of carrying acid. Picture: Steve PostonYouth outreach worker Gwenton Sloley has spoken out about the need to educate youngsters about the consequences of carrying acid. Picture: Steve Poston

Days after moped drivers were targeted in the terrifying spree, home secretary Amber Rudd announced an action plan to get tough on anyone carrying acid and vowed to work with retailers to stop them getting their hands on it. Mayor Phil Glanville said he was pleased the Home Office was considering taking action, but he isn’t going to wait.

He said: “We’re going door to door handing out leaflets and speaking to shopkeepers to ask them to join our scheme and help keep these dangerous substances off the street.

“Our trading standards officers already carry out test purchases and enforce against the sale of restricted items to underage people – a shopkeeper was recently prosecuted and billed £2,000 for selling a knife to a teenager in Hackney – so we will certainly enforce the sale of corrosive substances if there is a change in the law that allows us to do so.”

Drain cleaner is often used in the attacks, which are a growing problem across London. In 2015 there were 261; last year the number rose to 454.

Former Dalston gang member Gwenton Sloley, who now works with troubled youngsters, welcomed the move. “I think that’s the best thing I’ve heard so far to combat the easy access,” he told the Gazette. “It would also show the council is taking a strong stance on the issue. I support them 100 per cent.”

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