Corrosive substance attacks: linking the weapon to the damage

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A Corrosive Substance Attack (CSA) is a devastating form of assault where a victim is deliberately exposed to a corrosive substance with the intent to disorient, disfigure, maim or even murder. The motives behind CSAs range from robbery and gang violence to spurned romantic suitors. The occurrence of the attacks is increasing with a 100% increase in attacks from 2012-2016 in the UK. CSA’s are referred to in the media as “acid attacks” with sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric acids implicated but alkalis such as sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochloride have also been used.

The forensic investigation of CSAs is challenging due to a number of factors; the victims and witnesses can be reluctant to testify for fear of reprisal, the substances used can pose a significant danger to investigators and the measures taken to treat victims can impinge on the integrity of the evidence remaining.

The NHS guidance for treating a CSA victim is to Report (call 999), Remove (remove contaminated clothing) & Rinse (rinse with running water). The water used washes away the substance and forensic information that could link the substance to a perpetrator is lost.

There is a lack of research into the damage caused to fabric by corrosive substances and their forensic examination. The research presented will show the first steps to closing this research gap, research that could lead to an improvement in the successful prosecution of these crimes, giving the victim’s the justice they deserve.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022
EventUWS Research Festival 2022 - UWS Lanarkshire Campus, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 202224 Jun 2022


ConferenceUWS Research Festival 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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