New acid testing kit developed by governments secret military research lab to

Officers would be able to stop and search a person or vehicle in a public place if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting they will find a drone used to commit an offence under the Air Navigation Order 2016, or if they suspect they will discover a laser pointer intended to commit the newly created offence of shining or directing a beam at a vehicle, thereby dazzling or distracting the person in control.In the year to March 2017, police in England and Wales carried out 303,845 stops and searches – the lowest number since current data records started in 2001/02. Acid attacks have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2017 there a record were 465 such incidents recorded in London, up from 395 the previous year.The Home Office also unveiled proposals to extend stop and search powers to cover offences relating to misuse of drones and laser pointers, with more than 1,000 incidents reported instances annually since 2010. Police will be issued an acid testing kit to be developed by the government’s secret military research lab, to determine whether suspects are carrying corrosive substances.Officers will also be able to use expanded stop-and-search powers on those they believe may be carrying a corrosive substance, under Home Office proposals published on Saturday.It follows the introduction earlier this year of the Offensive Weapons Bill, which will create a new offence of possessing a corrosive substance in a public place.Ministers say the expanded powers, alongside the testing kit which they have commissioned from experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, will enable forces to take better preventative action.Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “A bottle of acid can be as lethal as a knife or a firearm, and these new powers will enable police officers to prevent these despicable thugs from carrying out their terrible crimes.” Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for corrosive attacks, said: “Officers should be confident to use stop and search – proportionately and respectfully – because it’s an important investigative tool.” Officers can currently stop and search individuals they suspect of being in possession of a corrosive substance and intent on causing injury. The proposed extension will allow police to search anyone they suspect of carrying a corrosive in a public place. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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