Non-fatal strangulation introduced as a stand-alone offence

Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham In: Criminal Defence

A new law making non-fatal strangulation and suffocation a specific, stand-alone offence has come into force this month.

Non-fatal strangulation typically involves someone strangling or intentionally affecting their victim’s ability to breathe in an attempt to control or intimidate them.

It is estimated by women’s charities that around 20,000 women per year in the UK experience non-fatal strangulation or suffocation.

The legislation change comes after campaigners highlighted the fact 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).

It comes into force as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and for the first time could see these abusers jailed for up to five years.

The law will apply to British nationals abroad meaning people can be prosecuted in England and Wales for offences committed overseas.

The CPS has updated guidance, to provide a non-exhaustive list of how these offences can manifest, with prosecutors being encouraged to take careful consideration as to when it would be appropriate to use them rather than alternative charges such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, inflicting grievous bodily harm, and battery.

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.”

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