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London Police Charge 2 Teens With Numerous Crimes Over Acid Attacks

Two teenage boys, 15 and 16, are facing numerous charges of grievous bodily harm and robbery after a string of recent acid attacks in London. Police arrested the teenagers after five attacks left one victim with life-changing facial injuries. The growing trend of acid attacks also has the government considering ways to increase the penalties for the crime.

The 16-year-old faces 15 charges, including possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance and five counts of attempted gross bodily harm with intent, according to London's Metropolitan Police.

The pair are accused of spraying or splashing corrosive acid on the face of a food deliveryman who was riding a moped, and stealing his moped. They then allegedly carried out four similar attacks in the next 90 minutes, traveling around the city on a moped.

"Acid attacks are completely barbaric," Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick said this week. It's a new trend in this country. The acid can cause horrendous injuries."

The spree raised new concerns about a growing style of crime that's devastating for its victims. British media have been reporting on the best ways bystanders and victims can deal with an acid attack, from removing contaminated clothing to using water to wash the material away.

"Acid attacks are a fraction of knife attacks in London, but they are getting more common. We had 20 people injured in an acid attack in a London nightclub back in April," NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from London. Two people in that case were left partially blind. Police say there have been about 500 acid attacks across the U.K. in a little bit more than the past year. So that's double what it was just five years ago.

Larry Miller reports for our Newscast unit, "British Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the government is considering imposing a life sentence on those carrying out acid attacks. She says attackers must share the life sentences of mental and physical trauma they impose on their victims. "

In the current case, the 16-year-old will be in custody until at least Monday, when he's scheduled to appear in youth court. The 15-year-old is currently free on bail, awaiting a court date in early August.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.