Justice Minister launches public consultation on Non-Fatal Strangulation legislation

Date published: 07 July 2021

Justice Minister Naomi Long today launched a public consultation seeking views on the need for changes to the law on non-fatal strangulation.

Justice Minister Naomi Long

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.

Further information and how to respond to the consultation is available at Citizen Space at or alternatively the consultation section of this website.

If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please contact the Department by email nfs.consultation@justice-ni.gov.uk or in writing to Non Fatal Strangulation Review Team, Department of Justice, Massey House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SX.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact DoJ Press Office by email: press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk 
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  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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