Clapham chemical assault: hunt for suspect after 12 hurt – latest updates | London

What we know so far:

  • A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter have sustained potentially life-changing injuries after an attack with an alkaline corrosive substance in Clapham, south London. Her eight-year-old daughter was also attacked.

  • Emergency services were called to Lessar Avenue in Clapham at about 7.25pm. The victims were taken to hospital.

  • Police say the man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle, and then made off on foot, in the direction of Clapham Common.

  • Police are understood to have a probable identity for the attacker, who they believe was known to the victims.

  • A hunt for the suspect is under way and police are urgently trying to establish his associates and anyone who may help shelter him. Police have asked anyone with information to call 999.

  • A woman said she rescued the three-year-old girl after she was “thrown from a car”. She said she helped a girl, who told her she was three, and tried to help her older sister.

  • According to the BBC, four bystanders were injured when they tried to help. Three women – two in their 30s and one in her 50s – were injured when they tried to help. They’ve all been discharged from hospital with minor burn injuries. The fourth, a man in his 50s, declined hospital treatment for his minor injuries. Five police officers also suffered minor injuries and have left hospital.

Key events

The South Belvedere Hotel, on Clapham Common South Side, has confirmed that its guests were victims of the attack last night.

A spokesperson said:

At 7.25pm last night, police and ambulance services were called to attend on a serious incident in which guests at the Belvedere Hotel were a victim.

Belvedere Hotel staff, having supported the work of the emergency services, have provided assistance to the guests affected and sought to reassure other hotel guests as to their safety and wellbeing.

The staff team will continue to provide assistance to guests and the police going forward.

As this is an ongoing police investigation, we are not able to provide any further comment.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those affected.

Sky News has obtained video footage of last night’s attack, which you can watch below.

Warning: some viewers may find it distressing

Sky News obtains footage of Clapham attack – video

Our photographer Martin Godwin is at the scene of last night’s attack, where a police presence remains.

Police in Lessar Avenue, Clapham. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian
Police in Lessar Avenue, Clapham. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

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Clapham attack ‘truly shocking’, says London mayor

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said last night’s chemical assault in Clapham is “truly shocking”.

He tweeted that his “thoughts are with all those who have been injured, especially the woman and two children who remain in hospital”.

He added:

The Met are doing all they can to urgently find the man seen fleeing the scene and have increased patrols in the local community. I urge anyone with any information to call the police on 101.

Last night’s incident in Clapham is truly shocking. My thoughts are with all those who have been injured, especially the woman and two children who remain in hospital.

I’ve been in close contact with the Met Police since last night and want to pay tribute to the police officers… https://t.co/YzI6JOLqI0

— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) February 1, 2024

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A local Labour councillor, Alison Inglis-Jones, said the emergency services had arrived on the scene quickly. She told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the ward was “one of the safest in Lambeth, so we are horrified at what has happened”.

She also posted a statement on X from Lambeth council, which you can see here:

Police are urgently appealing for anyone with information to come forward

A manhunt is under way to trace a suspect after a corrosive substance was thrown at a 31-year-old woman and her two daughters. Police are urgently appealing for anyone with information to come forward to help with the investigation.

Supt Gabriel Cameron, a senior officer who polices in Lambeth, said in an update on last night’s events: “The woman, who is aged 31, and her two daughters – aged eight and three – all remain in hospital. While none of their conditions are life-threatening, the injuries to the woman and younger girl could be life-changing. It may be some time before hospital staff are able to say how serious that might be.”

He commended members of the public, officers and nearby hotel staff for coming to the aid of the woman and the children. He said: “I also want to commend nearby hotel staff after victims and officers sought refuge and water there following the incident.”

Cameron said police were called to Lessar Avenue in Clapham at about 7.25pm on Wednesday, 31 January. He said:

A woman and two children were injured in a suspected corrosive substance attack in Lessar Ave #Lambeth #SW4 this evening.

An extensive crime scene is in place & the police helicopter is up while we investigate.

Can you help us? ☎️ 999 ref 7790/31 Jan.https://t.co/7XBegU8wSg

— Lambeth Police | Central South BCU (@LambethMPS) January 31, 2024

It was reported that a man had thrown a child to the ground and that a substance – which we now know to be alkaline – had been thrown. The man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle, and then made off on foot, in the direction of Clapham Common.

Officers from across the Met are working with partner agencies and forces to locate and arrest the man. While this appears a targeted attack, he is a dangerous individual and we urgently need to find him. We will release more information about him as soon as we can.

Any members of the public who saw what happened can help us by calling 101quoting reference CAD 7790/31Jan. I also urge local people and drivers to check their doorbell and dash cameras for any footage that might have captured a man fleeing the area, and to please contact us immediately.

“An extensive crime scene is in place and is likely to remain in place for some time,” he added. The London fire brigade, London ambulance service and the national police air service also assisted last night, he said.

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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What we know so far:

  • A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter have sustained potentially life-changing injuries after an attack with an alkaline corrosive substance in Clapham, south London. Her eight-year-old daughter was also attacked.

  • Emergency services were called to Lessar Avenue in Clapham at about 7.25pm. The victims were taken to hospital.

  • Police say the man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle, and then made off on foot, in the direction of Clapham Common.

  • Police are understood to have a probable identity for the attacker, who they believe was known to the victims.

  • A hunt for the suspect is under way and police are urgently trying to establish his associates and anyone who may help shelter him. Police have asked anyone with information to call 999.

  • A woman said she rescued the three-year-old girl after she was “thrown from a car”. She said she helped a girl, who told her she was three, and tried to help her older sister.

  • According to the BBC, four bystanders were injured when they tried to help. Three women – two in their 30s and one in her 50s – were injured when they tried to help. They’ve all been discharged from hospital with minor burn injuries. The fourth, a man in his 50s, declined hospital treatment for his minor injuries. Five police officers also suffered minor injuries and have left hospital.

Nearby hotel confirms guests were hurt in attack, says BBC

The BBC has a statement from a hotel on the corner of Lessar Avenue, where last night’s chemical attack took place. The Clapham South Belvedere Hotel told the broadcaster that at 7.25pm last night, “police and ambulance services were called to attend a serious incident in which guests at the Belvedere Hotel were a victim”.

It’s not clear which people caught up in last night’s incident were guests of the hotel, said the BBC.

The statement continues:

Belvedere Hotel staff, having supported the work of the emergency services, provided assistance to the guests affected and sought to reassure other hotel guests as to their safety and wellbeing.

The staff team will continue to provide assistance to guests and the police going forward. As this is an ongoing police investigation, we are not able to provide any further comment.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those affected.”

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Emily Dugan

Emily Dugan

My colleagues, Emily Dugan and Vikram Dodd have the following report on the events:

A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter have sustained potentially life-changing injuries after an attack with an alkaline corrosive substance in south London.

The attack in Clapham on Wednesday evening also injured the woman’s eight-year-old daughter, the Metropolitan police said. Police are understood to have a probable identity for the attacker, who they believe was known to the victims.

A hunt for the suspect is under way and police are urgently trying to establish his associates and anyone who may help shelter him. Detectives are also checking police databases to see what is known about him, and other forces have been alerted to be on the lookout, in case he tries to flee London.

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Mother and daughter’s injuries could be life-changing

Commenting on the family’s injuries, the Met’s Supt Gabriel Cameron said: “While none of their conditions are life-threatening, the injuries to the woman and younger girl could be life-changing. It may be some time before hospital staff are able to say how serious that might be.”

Cameron added: “It was reported that a man had thrown a child to the ground and that a substance – which we now know to be alkaline – had been thrown. The man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle, and then made off on foot, in the direction of Clapham Common.

“We believe the man and woman are known to each other. Our investigation is in its early stages and we are working to establish why this awful incident has happened.”

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Twelve hurt in attack – police

Mark Rowley, the head of the Met police, has ben speaking to the BBC about the attack.

He confirms that the number of people injured in the attack has risen to 12.

Among those are a mother and two daughters, who appear to be the targets of the attack.

Where did the attack take place?

Emergency services were called to Lessar Avenue in Clapham at about 7.25pm. The victims were taken to hospital along with passersby and police officers who were injured as they tried to help.

Three women – two in their 30s and one in her 50s – who came to the aid of the family had since been discharged with minor burns injuries. Five police officers who were injured had all been treated and left hospital. A man in his 50s who also helped received minor injuries but declined hospital treatment.

One couple who ran into the street after hearing a cry for help and the sound of a car crashing described what they saw to the BBC.

A map showing the Clapham Common area of south London

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Hunt for suspect after chemical attack

Emily Dugan

Emily Dugan

A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter have sustained potentially life-changing injuries after an attack with an alkaline corrosive substance in south London.

The attack in Clapham on Wednesday evening also injured an eight-year-old girl, the Metropolitan police said. A hunt for the suspect is under way.

Witnesses described a “horrific” scene after the woman and her two daughters were attacked.

A woman said she rescued the three-year-old girl after she was “thrown from a car”. Shannon Christi said she heard a bang and someone shouting for help in the street, and ran outside from her flat which overlooked the scene.

She said she helped a girl, who told her she was three, and tried to help her older sister.

Christi, a bus driver, said the attacker was wearing black clothes and that she felt he “definitely” knew the victims.

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