Non-fatal strangulation: One year on

The non-fatal strangulation offence came info force in June last year, meaning abusers who strangle their partners in an attempt to control or induce fear face up to five years behind bars. 

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).

Studies have shown that victims are seven times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there had been non-fatal strangulation beforehand.

Commenting on the first anniversary of the offence coming into force, Isabella Lowenthal-Isaacs, Senior Policy and Practice Officer at Women’s Aid, said:

“Strangulation is not a sexual act, it’s violence. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the non-strangulation offence coming into force under the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021. Around 20,000 women are subjected to non-fatal strangulation every year, with children being present in one-third of cases. Training of professionals in the criminal justice system, NHS, and wider statutory bodies is key to ensuring an effective national response to this highly dangerous and common feature of countless domestic abuse cases.

Health professionals play a key role in ensuring that survivors receive the physical and mental support needed following their abuse. Physical impacts of strangulation result in long-term injuries or weaknesses which can be identified by GPs well after the event. We must continue to ensure there is adequate training and guidance available to statutory bodies around this provision, and the wider Domestic Abuse Act.”

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