A NEW safety initiative is set to provide several town centre venues with acid attack first aid kits.

Essex Police, Colchester Council, the SOS Bus and Pubwatch put in a joint funding application to the Safer Colchester Partnership’s rolling grants programme.

It will see 12 portable units delivered to pubs and other social venues in the coming weeks.

The treatment kits, which include protective equipment and five-litre bottles of water, will allow staff to give immediate treatment.

Pam Donnelly, chair of the Safer Colchester Partnership, said: “While the number of acid attacks are mercifully rare in our region, we are taking a sensible and precautionary measure by stepping up our response to this growing crime.

“Hopefully these new treatment kits will never be needed, but we should be mindful of national trends and for the potential, one day, that such attacks may occur in Colchester.”

Mike Lilley, councillor responsible for public safety, said precautions were needed after a suspected acid attack in August this year, which turned out to be boiling water.

The male victim in Sussex Road, Colchester, had a liquid thrown at his chest and neck.

Mr Lilley added: “We know acid attacks can inflict appalling life-changing injuries. Having these kits available to mitigate the worst effects of acid can help reduce the level of injury sustained, as well as helping to alleviate the fear of being a victim of such a crime.”

Countywide, there were 36 incidents where an ‘unknown substance’ was thrown.

Chief Inspector Shaun Kane, Colchester District Commander, said: “Thankfully people being affected by instances involving toxic substance in Colchester is extremely rare but this additional safety consideration will ensure further immediate help is at hand.”

Steve Wood, SOS Bus Service Manager, added: “The idea for these kits is to support the needs of anyone injured through an attack, whilst waiting for emergency services to attend.The SOS bus medic team will be able to provide staff with the correct training.”