Law Commission recommends a new offence for abusers who use strangulation on victims

The Law Commission has recommended a new offence for perpetrators of family violence who use strangulation on their victims.

The Law Commission’s report, Strangulation: The case for a new offence highlights the detrimental impact strangulation has on victims of family violence and found that abusers using strangulation are often charged with a low level offence.

It also outlines studies which show that if a victim of family violence is strangled, she has a high risk of being killed in the future by her attacker.

Hon Sir Grant Hammond of the Law Commission says, “The utter terror that is experienced by these victims and the known relationship between strangulation and future fatal attack requires a stronger criminal justice response for these offenders. Strangulation is an act that is designed to control and manipulate the victims.”

Last year the Minister of Justice asked the Law Commission to examine whether it should follow the lead of some other countries and enact a specific criminal offence of strangulation.

The report also found that risks to victims of strangulation are not well understood by the Police and Judges and recommends they should receive more education on the signs and risks of strangulation.

Dr Wayne Mapp, the lead Commissioner on the review outlines, “The risks to victims following strangulation are under recognised at every level of intervention with family violence. It means that people who are making decisions designed to keep women safe are not giving sufficient weight to a significant risk factor. “

The Law Commission has recommended

  • A new offence should be enacted which would see a person who strangles or suffocates another person should be liable to a maximum term of imprisonment of seven years
  • Strangulation in the course of other violence should increase the sentence imposed on the perpetrator
  • The Police should specifically record whether a family violence incident involved an allegation of strangulation
  • Police and judges should receive education about the signs and risks of strangulation.