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Tau's picture
Acid Attacks

As pragmatists we need to evolve what we do. Surely we can't help but be concerned by the spate of attacks in which acid is thrown in the victims' faces. I've read much advice on how to deal with this after you've been attacked in terms of first aid. But how do defend against this and how do we incorporate this into our teaching?

The obvious first answer is, as with any attack, use your skills to minimise the attack happening in the first place. But what else? What specific?

Marc's picture

Tau wrote:

Surely we can't help but be concerned by the spate of attacks in which acid is thrown in the victims' faces.

Yuck! Is that really a "thing"?

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Coincidently I was talking with John Titchen today and we touched upon his article - https://johntitchen.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/self-defence-on-a-road-trip...

I currently spend a few hours a year on firearms drills and I guess I will probably spend the same on acid attacks.  As noted in Johns article there is very little time to react to the attack, therefore being proactive is almost more important when compared to a hand-to-hand altercation.

Looking at pre-attack indicators would be the key here. Am I a likely target? Am in an area where an attack is a possibility? What type of person will my attack likely to be? etc... 

From what I've read, these attacks tend to be in big cities, involving gangs and often with the victim in a vehicle with a window open whilst parked at a traffic light or in traffic. 

There is a lot to do to avoid the situation in the first place, but much like guns (and other projectile weapons) once there is sufficient proximity that you can't strike the enemy and you can't flee, then the enemy has the advantage as their weapon is at perfect range. Stuck in that situation  you need to try and use projectiles (jacket, rucksack, handbag etc..) and attempt to run away as much as possible without the bullet/acid hitting you flush, although the speed of the assault will limit the effectiveness of any defence so late in the event.

Just some initial thoughts, I'm interested in others views on this too.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

The answer is going to be a simple one. If you have time to react, try to get out of the way and use your arms to cover your eyes and face. Get to safety, then take off any clothing that has the acid on ASAP … being careful not to spread it to other places i.e. don’t pull an acid coated t-shirt over your head, but rip or cut it off. Get flowing cool water on affected areas as quickly as you can and keep dousing it while medical help is acquired.

The police – at the request of the BBC – say that there were around 500 acid attacks in the last year (208 of which were in London). To put that in perspective, there were 32,448 knife crimes over the same period. The figures would therefore tell us that, across the board, we should spend 1.5% of the time we spend on knife drills on acid attacks. That's not a lot of time. More than that, and we are taking time away from far more likely occurrences. Such horrible crimes hit the headlines hard, but they are a tiny percentage of violent crime overall.

As self-protection instructors, it is something we need to consider, but we need to be careful that we don’t get carried away and instil a disproportionate fear of it into people. A disproportionate fear of a crime can be harmful too. Nor should we focus on it to the detriment or exclusion of more likely events. The precautions taken must always be commensurate with the risk. Remain aware, take the kind of sensible precautions you would anyway, know some basic first aid for corrosive substances.

All the best,


sarflondonboydonewell's picture

In acid attacks the attackers use the  element of surprise and the knowledge that the victim cannot fight back even if they want to due to the pain and disorientation . In London were the majority of attacks have taken place the emerging trend is that in it predominantly inter gang violence. The attack are heavily concentrated in certain areas.

The majority of victims are males aged late teens to early 20s.

See this excellent article below