Following a recommendation by the Law Commission, a new offence of strangulation or suffocation came into force on 3 December 2018, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment (section 189A of the Crimes Act 1961). The new offence implements the Law Commission’s recommendation in its 2016 report Strangulation: The case for a new offence.
The Commission’s 2016 report concluded that strangulation is a common and particularly harmful form of family violence. A victim of family violence who is strangled has a much greater risk of a future fatal attack by the perpetrator than a victim who was not strangled. The Commission found the risks following strangulation were not well understood by police, judges and others who assist victims of family violence.
Recent figures reveal that between 3 December 2018 and 28 February 2019, Police charged 416 people with strangling or suffocating their partners – that is around 33 people per week and almost five each day.