Recent research has shown that Britain has one of the highest rates of corrosive substance attacks per head of population in the world with 400 such attacks recorded in the six months to April 2017. That equates to two per day.
It also appears that the true rate of attacks might be considerably higher since A&E departments appear to be treating far more cases than the reported numbers suggest.
Police forces predict that the rate will increase as they struggle to address the problem. So far two people have died in acid attacks and many more have been left with life-changing injuries.
Part of the problem is that many household items contain substances corrosive enough to cause considerable harm and determining the intent of those caught with such substances is not straightforward. While a pilot project in London using litmus paper could identify the nature of substances it could not immediately indicate how powerful they were.
The crime is not new - the first recorded instance was in 1736 - but its prevalence has rocketed in recent years. It appears to be particularly common for men to target other men and for acid to be used in robberies on the street. Another growing problem is 'fake' acid attacks where an innocuous liquid is thrown at a victim to fool them into releasing their belongings.