Non-fatal strangulation to be specific criminal offence in England and Wales
10 Jan 2021
Rape Crisis England & Wales joins partners in welcoming the Lord Chancellor’s announcement of a new standalone offence of non-fatal strangulation, originally formulated by the Centre for Women's Justice (CWJ) as a proposed amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill.
This type of assault is particularly common in domestic abuse. 37% of high-risk survivors who experience physical abuse report it.
The Lord Chancellor has recognised that this terrifying offence is far more serious than it has generally been treated by police and prosecutors. Often perpetrators are only charged with common assault if charged at all.
The Lord Chancellor is proposing that the offence could carry a maximum tariff of seven years.
CWJ has been at the forefront of the campaign to have this offence included in the Domestic Abuse Bill. Baroness Newlove put down an amendment when the Bill came to the House of Lords, and was widely supported by Peers from every political party, Bishops and cross-benchers. They put out a powerful message that the Government were not listening and need to change the law, and the Lord Chancellor listened.
Many survivors describe how they truly believed they were going to die whilst they were being strangled. Some report such offending as taking place in full view of their children. Not being able to breathe is terrifying, which is why water-boarding is used as a form of torture. CWJ’s case studies show how strangulation is used as a form of control by signalling a warning to women who do not comply.
“It is time that as a society we stopped normalising and ignoring strangulation. We look forward to the police, prosecutors and medical professionals working together to address this with the seriousness it deserves, and hope that survivors of domestic abuse will have greater confidence to seek justice.”