Justice Minister Naomi Long today launched a public consultation seeking views on the need for changes to the law on non-fatal strangulation.
Naomi Long said: “Non-fatal strangulation is both dangerous in its own right and often a pre-curser to escalating violence. In some cases it can be an important indicator of a risk of domestic homicide.”
“Non-fatal strangulation can be used in domestic violence situations to terrify victims and demonstrate control. This is dangerous and wholly unacceptable behaviour which can cause serious physical and psychological injury and, tragically, on occasion can have fatal consequences.”
“Current legislation in Northern Ireland presents challenges for the criminal justice system dealing with cases of non-fatal strangulation. There is no free-standing offence of strangulation, meaning that such offences are often charged as assaults, receiving sentences constrained by the maximum available for the offence charged. In such circumstances, the perpetrator’s criminal record will not show the precise nature of the assault.”
“I am acutely aware of the devastating consequences of strangulation and the particular issues victims can face as a result. That is why I commissioned a review to identify and address any issues with the current legislation on non-fatal strangulation, and to identify areas which could benefit from focused policy development.”
“I would encourage everyone with an interest in addressing this behaviour to respond to this consultation. Together we can ensure a robust legislative framework is in place, a framework within which this crime is taken seriously, and offenders are treated appropriately.”
The consultation was developed with the help of an expert stakeholder reference group. It considers legislative and judicial developments in other jurisdictions, and ground breaking international research on the subject.
The consultation will run for 10 weeks from 7 July 2021 until 17 September 2021. This consultation period has been extended to 10 weeks to take account of the summer holiday period.
If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please contact the Department by email email@example.com or in writing to Non Fatal Strangulation Review Team, Department of Justice, Massey House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SX.
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