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New strangulation and suffocation laws come into force to help protect victims

From 7 June 2022, prosecutors have new powers to charge violent abusers with specific offences of non-fatal strangulation and non-fatal suffocation, as sections 70 and 71 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 came into force.

The CPS has published new legal guidance to assist lawyers considering criminal charges for these offences. The new legislation sets out the legal definition that a person commits an offence of non-fatal strangulation if they intentionally strangle another person, and non-fatal suffocation where a person does any other act that affects someone's ability to breathe and constitutes battery.

The CPS guidance provides a non-exhaustive list of how these offences can manifest, with prosecutors being asked to take careful consideration as to when it would be appropriate to use them rather than alternative charges such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, inflicting grievous bodily harm, and battery. The new offences attar t sentences up to five years' imprisonment.

While victims may often be left with little or no physical marks, the guidance is clear this is not a reason to detract from the seriousness of these offences.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has welcomed the introduction of the new offences but says that a co-ordinated implementation strategy is needed by Government, so the new offences have the impact that is so desperately needed.

For the CPS guidance, click here. For the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, click here. For the Domestic Abuse Commissioner's response, click here.