Prosecutors in Wales and England can now charge violent abusers with specific offences of non-fatal strangulation
Abusers who strangle their partners in an attempt to control or induce fear will face up to 5 years behind bars when a new offence comes into force today (7 June 2022).
Non-fatal strangulation was made a specific offence as part of the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act.
The practice typically involves a perpetrator strangling or intentionally affecting their victim’s ability to breathe in an attempt to control or intimidate them.
It followed concerns that perpetrators were avoiding punishment as the act can often leave no visible injury, making it harder to prosecute under existing offences such as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).
The Crown Prosection Service (CPS) has published new legal guidance to assist lawyers considering criminal charges for these offences.
The new legislation sets out the legal definition that a person commits an offence of non-fatal strangulation if they intentionally strangle another person, and non-fatal suffocation where a person does any other act that affects someone’s ability to breathe and constitutes battery.
“While victims may often be left with little or no physical marks, the guidance is clear this is not a reason to detract from the seriousness of these offences.” The CPS said.
Studies have shown that victims are seven times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there had been non-fatal strangulation beforehand.
The new offence will also apply to British nationals abroad. It means perpetrators can be prosecuted in England and Wales for offences committed overseas – ensuring there is no escape for abusers.
Kate Brown, CPS lead for Domestic Abuse prosecutions said: “Protecting victims from these ‘hidden harms’ is paramount. Sadly, because this type of offending may leave no physical mark the serious nature of it has not always been appreciated.”
“We understand the devastating life-long effects domestic abuse can have on victims. The welcomed new legislation will mean prosecutors and investigators have more charging powers to protect victims and their families from all-too-often repeat offending.”
“Our prosecutors are determined to see justice done in every possible case, and where there is sufficient evidence and our legal test is met, we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”
“We are developing training for prosecutors to ensure the offences are properly identified from the outset.”
Minister for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls, Victoria Atkins MP said:
“This government is determined to tackle abuse in its many forms, make our streets safer and better protect women and girls which is why perpetrators who strangle their partners in this way will now face up to five years behind bars for the torment they have inflicted.”
“These measures are part of our plan to ensure victims get the support and justice they deserve, alongside introducing a new Victims law, launching a 24/7 rape helpline, recruiting more independent sexual violence advisers and improving collaboration between police and prosecutors.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com