Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 18:18 UK

Study into UK acid attacks starts

Katie Piper
Katie Piper had acid thrown in her face in 2008

A charity is carrying out research into acid attacks in the UK following a number of high profile cases.

The Acid Survivors Trust International wants to find out how many attacks happen in the UK and if more support is needed for victims.

Rick Trask, director of the trust, said he did not think such violence in Britain was rising, but said it was being brought to the public's attention by a number of cases.

Awais Akram, 25, was disfigured after being attacked by three men in Leytonstone, east London, for having a relationship with a married woman called Sadia Khatoon.

Ms Khatoon's brother Mohammed Vakas, 26, of Walthamstow, has been jailed for 30 years for conspiracy to murder.

'Revenge attacks'

Mohammed Adeel, 20, of Walthamstow, and Fabion Kuci, 17, of Harlesden, north London, were given 13 and eight-year sentences for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

Aspiring model and TV presenter Katie Piper, 24, had acid thrown in her face in 2008. She later appeared in a documentary about her ordeal.

Awais Akram before the acid attack
Awais Akram was disfigured in an acid attack

"We have primarily been focusing overseas but the Katie Piper case has raised the profile of the possibility of it happening in the UK," Mr Trask said. "We just need to find out more about it.

"We will be looking to try to determine incidence of it, if there are attacks out there and what's being done about it."

He said the trust would be contacting police, non-government organisations and the NHS to try to obtain a clearer picture of the problem.

"It's important to remember this is not a new phenomenon (in Britain)," he added. "In Victorian times, vitriolic acid was used for revenge attacks in the crime world."

Mr Trask said he hoped to have some results in a few months time.

Collecting statistics of acid attacks in the UK can be problematic.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said it was difficult for police to give figures because acid attacks were categorised as assaults - not assault by acid.

The NHS Information Centre said acid attack patient figures may be recorded in up to six different categories.

One of these - "assault by corrosive substance" -saw 69 patients admitted to hospitals in 2008/2009, compared to 67 the previous year and 44 the year before that.

Mr Trask said such assaults happened in a number of different cultures and religions overseas and therefore the trust's research would not focus on any one particularly community in the UK.

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