London schoolchildren are increasingly using acid as a weapon instead of knives, it is claimed.
The attacks, known as “dosing”, have seen a sharp increase in recent years, with youths smuggling acid or ammonia into school hidden inside drinks bottles.
One teenager told the Sunday Times many children were using a bottle of cheap household cleaner as a weapon.
The 18-year-old, who claimed to have carried acid since he was 12, said: “You can get that for, like, £5 and f*** someone’s whole life up.
“Or you can just buy ammonia. That's £3. Just keep it in a drinks bottle."
He added: “A lot of people ain’t got the heart to stab people.
“It’s just easier to squirt someone.”
Data released last month showed a sharp rise in such attacks in the capital.
The figures, released by the Metropolitan Police, showed the number of reported attacks in London rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016, a rise of 74 per cent.
A shocking series of alleged acid attacks have been reported in the capital over the past few weeks, including one at Sydney Russell School in Dagenham which saw three children arrested.
Other incident away from school included an alleged attack at Dalston nightclub Mangle where two people were left blind in one eye and a further 18 were injured.
Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, of the Met Police’s East Area Basic Command Unit appealed for parents’ help in tackling the problem.
He said: "We are aware of a growing trend in the use of noxious substances in assaults.
“Assaults involving corrosive liquids such as acids are horrific and the impact on victims can be devastating.
“We have schools and youth engagement officers who work closely with young people in their communities. We are working to understand why more people appear to want to use a noxious substance as a weapon. “
He said: "Our officers are proactive around preventing and detecting these type of incidents. Anyone caught carrying noxious substances will be arrested and face being prosecuted for possession of an offensive weapon.
“Those who are arrested and prosecuted for using noxious substances against others will be dealt with through the courts.
“We would ask for parents, teachers and our communities to support us. If you know of a child or a pupil storing and carrying a noxious substance, then we must challenge them and ask them why.
“If your child knows of anyone in possession of a noxious substance then we encourage them to make contact with us or speak to their teachers. This may prevent someone from being very seriously injured.”