The Metropolitan Police today faced warnings that acid attacks had the potential to become a “fashionable” crime among Londoners.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey was told that unless it was urgently tackled it was in danger of becoming an epidemic.
The capital has seen a rise in acid attacks with 455 in London over the last year, two thirds of which were against people.
Last week six people were doused with corrosive liquid on London’s streets in just 24 hours.
Mr Mackey revealed that police had started seeing gang members using acid attacks as a weapon of choice against their rivals.
He claimed they had not yet moved “lock, stock and barrel” to the brutal form of attack but that there was some evidence of use.
The majority of victims in London are between 15 and 29 and a third are Asian, he said. East London had become a “hot spot” for the crime.
The police chief also raised the possibility of making it illegal to carry corrosive substances in anything other than their original container. These are often difficult to open and suspects tend to transfer the acid into a squeezy bottle.
Mr Mackey insisted Scotland Yard was taking the rise in acid attacks seriously but said he was confident that it could be “designed out” with prevention measures in the longer term.