A new non-fatal strangulation offence has come into force

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From the 7th of June 2022 anyone who strangles their partners in a bid to control or intimidate them will face up to 5 years behind bars for committing the UK’s new non-fatal strangulation offence.

The new non-fatal strangulation offence will also apply to British nationals abroad so there is no escape for abusers even if the attack took place overseas.

The non-fatal strangulation offence is part of the government’s new Domestic Abuse Act.  It has been designed to tackle the rising number of allegations related to strangling or intentionally affecting someone’s ability to breathe to control or intimidate their victim. 

It was feared that too many perpetrators were escaping the proper punishment it is difficult to prosecute this type of violence as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).  This is because strangulation often leaves no visible injury.  This is despite it having been proven that victims are seven times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there have been previous instances of non-fatal strangulation.

What are the key points relating to non-fatal strangulation?

According to the government’s website the key points relating to the new non-fatal strangulation offence are:

  • The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 amends the Serious Crime Act 2015, introducing 2 new sections — section 75A and 75B— which will create a new and specific criminal offence of non-fatal strangulation and suffocation.
  • Appropriate guidance, training and publicity has been developed to ensure the effectiveness of the offence from the outset. The CPS and the College of Policing are preparing specific guidance for prosecutors and the police on non-fatal strangulation. It is important for these organisations to have guidance given their key roles in the arrest, charge and prosecution of perpetrators who are responsible for this type of criminal behaviour.
  • The offence will apply to any case where a person intentionally strangles or suffocates another person, including in cases of domestic abuse.
  • The offence applies in England and Wales.
  • The offence will also apply where strangulation or suffocation is committed abroad by a British national or by a person who is habitually resident in England or Wales, as if the offence had happened in England and Wales.

More victims of rape and other violent offences to have the choice to pre-record evidence

This new offence comes into force in the wake of the announcement that more victims of rape will be spared the trauma of being cross-examined in court. 

11 more Crown Courts across the Midlands and South West will now be able to offer victims the choice of pre-recording their evidence, subject to a successful application to the court. 

It is a scheme that is already operating successfully in 26 Crown Courts across the UK where both victims and witnesses of rapes and modern slavery have been able to record their cross-examination on video so it can be played back later during trial.

One of the reasons these recordings have been such a success is it provides an opportunity to give evidence much closer to the time the offence took place.  This makes the process not only less traumatic but also much more accurate.

From the 9th of June pre-recorded cross-examination will be available immediately at Crown Courts in Warwick, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Worcester, Hereford, Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, Northampton and Taunton.  This takes the total number of Crown Courts offering pre-recorded evidence to 37 and the government has  committed to rolling it out to the remaining Crown Courts by September.

This reform is the latest stage in the government’s continued drive to improve the way the justice system tends to the victims of rape, sexual offences and other violent crimes following a 27% rise in these crimes between 2020 and 2021.

If this blog has raised any questions or if you would like to discuss a case involving violence or a sexual offence, please contact us today.