A manhunt involving a “big team” of police officers is under way for a suspect in a corrosive substance attack in south London that left a mother and her two children in hospital.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told BBC News: “It’s understandable that it’s frightening.

“Fortunately, attacks using acid and chemicals are exceedingly rare. We did have a spate of them two or three years ago, you might remember.

“It’s not something we’ve seen much of at all recently, I’m pleased to say.

“This is a ghastly attack, and the first thing to say is we have a live manhunt.

“The suspected offender we believe was known to the victims and so we have a big team of officers, (including) the local officers who dealt with it assisted by colleagues.

“We are hunting for him as we speak.”

The Bolton News: A woman and her two young children were taken to hospital

An MP has said the attack on Wednesday night was “targeted” and that the woman and her two children remain in hospital with potentially life-changing injuries.

Speaking from the scene in south London, Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “We know a woman and her two children are still in hospital having been attacked with corrosive substance, and we know that whilst the injuries they sustained aren’t life threatening they could be life changing – we’re waiting for more updates from the hospital and obviously our thoughts and prayers and concerns are with all of them.”

The Bolton News:

She said members of the public and police who assisted the family and were affected by the substance are “all fine”, and emergency services have “gone to great lengths” to wash the substance from the residential road.

“Police are engaged in an active manhunt at the moment, it seems the individual was known to the woman and children that were attacked, so we don’t think that any random attacks are happening and we want to assure people in the local area that they are perfectly safe.

“This was a horrible and quite specific attack.

“I think it was very brave of all those who were on the scene to immediately come to their aid, running into different properties to get water.”