Police said the toddler was "deliberately targeted" in the city of Worcester
Arrests after UK acid attack on three-year-old boy
Three men were arrested on Monday in connection with an acid attack against a three-year-old boy that British police said was a deliberate targeting of the toddler.
The boy was attacked while in his pushchair at a discount store on Saturday afternoon in an incident that has been met with shock and condemnation by local and national officials.
While the police said they believe the child was targeted, the motive for the attack remains “unclear”.
The three suspects aged 22, 25, and 26, were arrested in Walthamstow, north London, over 200 kilometers away from where the attack took place in Worcester.
A fourth man from the nearby town of Wolverhampton was arrested on Sunday and remains in custody. All four men are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.
An eyewitness at the Home Bargains shop described the incident to the Evening Standard: “There was a bit of shouting and screaming in the store but then it all went quiet.
“But then this woman ran outside and started screaming that her baby had been hurt and needed help.”
The child was immediately taken to a hospital in London with severe burns to his face and arm, although he has since been discharged by doctors.
Police said they were unsure what the long-term effects of his injuries will be.
Chief Superintendent Mark Travis said: "We are hoping the injuries won't be life changing.
“It’s just a little too soon to say, but things look positive.”
Ch Supt Tavis also said that the family are receiving specialist medical and police support.
“Everything that can be done to provide support is being done, support for the family has been great,” he added.
“I absolutely understand the community will be concerned, these are life changing incidents, this is something that lasts forever and we need to send a message that this is unacceptable.”
Worcester City Council Leader Marc Bayliss described the attack as “absolutely pure evil” and Robin Walker, the parliamentary representative for Worcester, described the events as “horrific” and “appalling”.
The UK has one of the highest rates of recorded acid attacks in the world. Most of the incidents happen in London, which saw a 70 per cent rise in attacks involving corrosive substances from 2016 to 2017.
In response, the British government have started putting measures in place to counter the trends of acid attacks. Since 2017, some of the country’s largest retailers, including Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco, have pledged not to sell the most harmful corrosive substances to those under 18, as part of a series of voluntary commitments proposed by the government to tackle the issue.