Safer Colchester Partnership funds acid attack kits

A new safety initiative is set to provide several town centre venues with special kits designed to offer immediate first aid in the event of an acid or other corrosive substance attack.

A joint funding application to the Safer Colchester Partnership’s rolling grants programme by the Police, Colchester Borough Council, SOS Bus and Pubwatch will see 12 portable units delivered to pubs and other busy social venues in the coming weeks.

The treatment kits, which include protective equipment and five-litre bottles of water, will allow staff to give immediate treatment to victims sprayed with acid or other noxious substances.

Pam Donnelly, Chair of the Safer Colchester Partnership, said: “While the number of acid attacks are mercifully rare in our region, we are taking a sensible and precautionary measure by stepping up our response to this growing crime.

“Hopefully these new treatment kits will never be needed, but we should be mindful of national trends and for the potential, one day, that such attacks may occur in Colchester.”

Participating venues will display information about the treatment kits, which could also be used in the event of nearby street attacks.

Reports suggest the U.K. has one of the highest rates of violent acid attacks in the world, with an average of two incidents a day recorded by police forces across the country and attacks in London more than doubling over the past three years.

Cllr. Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Public Safety, added: “I am delighted that the community safety partners are working with Town Centre venues to provide the added reassurance to customers, members of staff and the public that these treatment kits are available and will be deployed in the event of an acid attack.

“Having these kits available to mitigate the worst effects of acid or another corrosive substance can help reduce the level of injury sustained, as well as helping to alleviate the fear of being a victim of such a crime.”

Alan Beckett, the Colchester-based Police Licencing Officer who spearheaded the initiative, said: “Other forces have introduced, or are looking to introduce, these kits for their Night Time Economy areas.

“It would be my fervent hope that these kits are never needed, but should an incident occur people should be reassured that the kits are available and that staff at the venues are trained to use them.”