Corrosive substances

A corrosive substance is defined as any substance that is capable of burning human skin by corrosion.

In 2022, new measures aimed at addressing attacks involving corrosive substances were implemented. These formed part of the Offensive Weapons Act of 2019, introducing two additional offences.

  • Selling a corrosive product (both in-store and online) to an individual under the age of 18
  • Possessing a corrosive substance in a public area with out a valid reason or lawful authorisation

Corrosive substance attacks are still relatively rare with less than 1,000 offences a year. However the high profile Clapham acid attacks in early 2024 increased national awareness along with other highly publicised cases highlighting the victims of acid attacks. Data also provided by the Acid Survivors Trust International indicated that  cases had risen by 69% in 2022 and these are expected to rise again.

Photo by Tom Def

What are corrosive substances offences?

Under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 it is a crime to sell acid or any other corrosive substance to someone under 18 and to have a corrosive substance in a public place without reasonable cause.

Possessing a corrosive substance in a public space now carries a potential prison term of up to four years. Using a corrosive substance with the intent to cause serious bodily harm was already considered a crime under the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

In assault and burglary charges the use of acid or any other corrosive substance is specifically mentioned as a factor indicating higher culpability. This means it’s use indicates a greater level of offence seriousness and therefore sentences will be longer. This factor is included in relation to all assault and burglary offences from robbery to GBH with intent.

What should I do if I've been arrested for corrosive substance offences?

Given the gravity of the accusation, it is crucial to seek guidance from a solicitor well-versed in acid attacks or other corrosive substance cases. Our team comprises dedicated criminal law specialists with extensive experience assisting clients across a spectrum of cases. Rest assured, one of our laywers is equipped to provide the assistance you need. Feel free to contact us by calling 0208 692 2694 or using the contact us form below.