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11 August 2017, 14:34
The Scottish Government should start compiling figures on the growing problem of acid attacks, an MSP has said.
Following a spate of the incidents across the UK it has emerged that Holyrood ministers do not collect specific statistics on assaults using acid.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson told Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton in answer to a parliamentary question: "Information on the number of acid attacks over the last five years is not held centrally.
"The statistics for assault held do not differentiate when corrosive substances have or have not been used."
He added that the Scottish Government is committed to doing what it can to ensure communities are safe from harm, including taking steps on the availability of acid and similar chemicals.
He said ministers working closely with their UK Government counterparts on an action plan, which includes looking at online sales of acid materials which could be used in an attack.
Ms Hamilton said while it was understandable the Scottish Government did not yet have statistics, it had to start collecting them in light of recent incidents, which include two people being jailed for acid attacks in Scotland in the past three weeks.
She said: "Acid attacks appear to be a fairly new phenomenon, and authorities are still getting to grips with how best to deal with them.
"But there's no question they are becoming more of a problem, with a series of high profile incidents across the UK. That's why it's essential the Scottish Government starts collating these figures so we can assess the scale of the issue.
"Ministers are able to publish statistics on other crimes, and it's now time for acid attacks to be included too."
She added that support mechanisms must be put in place for victims and urged engagement with retailers to ensure harmful substances are sold responsibly.