Government signals crackdown on acid attacks as 16-year-old is charged in relation to five incidents in London

A 16-year-old boy has been charged by police investigating five linked acid attacks which took place in less than 90 minutes in London.

The teenager is charged with 15 offences including grievous bodily harm and possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, the Metropolitan Police said.

He has been remanded in custody to appear before Stratford Youth Court on Monday.

Police said the teenager has been charged with one count of GBH with intent, one count of possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, three counts of robbery, one count of handling stolen goods, four counts of attempted robbery and five counts of attempted GBH with intent.

The charges come as Home Secretary Amber Rudd indicated that acid attack convictions could soon carry life sentences.

Crackdown – the charges come as Home Secretary Amber Rudd indicated an overhaul of laws relating to acid attacks (Pictures: Getty)

Ms Rudd warned that an overhaul of current guidelines would ensure those who use noxious liquids as a weapon “feel the full force of the law”.

She wrote in the Sunday Times: “I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors.”

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The government crackdown will include proposals to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons as well as measures to restrict the sale of such substances by retailers.

New guidance will also be issued to police officers on preventing attacks, searching potential attackers for harmful substances and responding to victims at the scene.

Attacks – more than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April this year

More than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April 2017, according to figures from 39 forces in England and Wales.

Bleach, ammonia and acid were the most commonly used substances, the Home Office said.

Sarah Newton, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, will outline the Government’s strategy on combating acid attacks in the Commons on Monday.

In the latest spate of acid attacks in London on Thursday night, five separate male victims – all on mopeds – were allegedly targeted by two moped-riding attackers.

Food delivery rider Jabed Hussain, 32, who works for UberEATS, was on his way home when he had his moped stolen and his face sprayed with liquid at around 10.25pm at traffic lights on Hackney Road.

He told the Press Association: “I’m too scared to go back to work. I’m really scared. I don’t know what to do. My wife, she’s scared. My family’s scared. They were asking me to leave that job, but I love that job.”

Attacks took place over a 90-minute period at locations in London including the Upper Street junction with Highbury Corner in Islington, Shoreditch High Street, Upper Clapton Road – where a man suffered “life-changing” facial injuries – and Chatsworth Road.

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