Police hunting the remaining suspect in an east London nightclub acid attack are confident that he is still in Britain and has not fled abroad, as reported.
Quashing speculation that Arthur Collins might have gone to Spain or Ireland, the Met said that it “strongly believes” the net is closing in on the 25-year-old boyfriend of reality television presenter Ferne McCann.
Two people were partially blinded after the attack in the Mangle nightclub, Hackney, on Monday that left another 18 with burn injuries. Andre Phoenix, 21, from north London, was charged on Saturday night with seven counts of grievous bodily harm. He will appear at Thames magistrates court on Monday. Another man, aged 24, who was arrested in north London on Friday on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, has been released. Police are urging Collins to hand himself in.
The attack has highlighted the issue of acid being used as a weapon, with figures charting a pronounced rise in attacks in London, from 259 in 2011 to 431 during the past year. The Home Office has said it is working with retailers to identify the best means of controlling the purchase of corrosive products.
However, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for corrosive attacks, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, said that it was hard to prevent these products falling into the wrong hands. “Many are household products, including for example bleach and drain cleaner, and are readily available over the counter at DIY and pharmacy stores, as well as supermarkets,” said Kearton.
The NPCC is collating force data to build a picture of the scale of the issue.