Retailers vow to control acid-attack ingredient sales

Some of the country’s largest retailers and independent business leaders have pledged not to sell the most harmful corrosive substances to under 18s, as part of a series of voluntary commitments proposed by the government to help limit acid attacks.

Waitrose, B&Q, Morrisons, Wickes, Co-op, Screwfix and Tesco are among the major brands to sign the voluntary commitments on the responsible sale of corrosive substances.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) will this month be encouraging all its members to sign up, and the government has published details of the voluntary commitments as well as a list of retailers already participating.

The publication comes as the University of Leicester launched a major research project, commissioned by the Home Office, into the motivations of offenders who carry and use acid in violent attacks.

Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said: “Acid attacks have a devastating impact on their victims, leaving both emotional and physical scars. I’m pleased that so many of the UK’s major retailers are joining our fight to combat this scourge and signalling they are committed to selling acids responsibly.

“This is the next step of our Acid Attacks Action Plan that has already seen us consult on new laws to restrict young people’s access to acids.

The voluntary commitments will see the retailers:

  • Agree not to sell products to under 18s that contain potentially harmful levels of acid or corrosive substances – including applying Challenge 21/25 policies when asking for age identification, staff supported by till alerts, supervision and inclusion of these products in age restricted sales training.
  • Agree that equivalent age restriction measures are applied to products sold online.
  • Agree to comply with the Poisons Act and promote awareness to staff and what this means for the sale of products which contain levels of acid and other corrosive substances which are either regulated or reportable under the Act.

National president of BIRA, Vin Vara said: “Bira represents thousands of hardware stores across Britain. As specialist retailers we want to make sure that our customers get the expert support and advice they need to ensure the responsible sale of any of our products.

“We take our duty to supply and sell these substances very seriously and we are happy to back the government’s commitment to address and limit the sale of them.”

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