More than 20 crimes involving acid or corrosive substances were reported to Cheshire police over the last four years.

Of the 24 crimes recorded between 2012 and 2015, 22 were criminal damage to a vehicle, according to figures released by the force to the Chronicle under the Freedom of Information Act.

Theft from a vehicle and criminal damage to a dwelling accounted for the two other recorded offences.

Nationally, police have recorded more than 500 offences in which people were threatened or injured with harmful substances since 2012.

An investigation by the Press Association found that acid attacks have risen by 30% in the last two years, with 242 reports of violent crime which mentioned acid or other corrosive liquids across 23 forces in 2014 and 2015, compared to 186 alleged offences in 2012 and 2013.

'Extreme' offence

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke, the NPCC’s lead on violence and public protection, said: “The use of corrosive substances to commit acts of violence is something that we are seeing more of both in the UK and globally.

“This type of offence is extreme and generally a very personalised crime with the aim being to cause lasting physical and emotional damage to victims.

“It is virtually impossible to ban the sale of all corrosive substances as many are household products, including for example bleach and drain cleaner, and are readily available over the counter at DIY and pharmacy stores, as well as supermarkets.

“I am sure that some offences of this type are not reported as a crime to the police.”