Changes to Abuse Law for Non-Fatal Strangulation and Suffocation Offences

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Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

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Abusers who use strangulation or suffocation as a form of intimidation or control could now face up to five years in prison under new non-fatal strangulation and suffocation charges that came into force on the 7th June 2022.

This will form part of new landmark domestic abuse legislation under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, making strangulation and suffocation specific criminal offences.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs has said this new legislation “marks a significant step forward” in the way people suffering domestic abuse are protected and how perpetrators are punished.

In this article, we’ve explored the importance of this legislation as well as how it will need to be enforced in order to be effective.

Read on to find out more about the legislation, or get in touch with our expert Abuse Solicitors for advice and support that is appropriate to your situation.  

Why is This Legislation so Important?

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has amended the Serious Crime Act 2015 to introduce two new sections: section 75A and 75B. These both create criminal offences relating to strangulation and suffocation, which is a welcome move in the world of sentencing – as studies show that victims are 7 times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there had been non-fatal strangulation beforehand.

Before this legislation, the Government had said that there was no need for strangulation and suffocation to be recognised as specific offences. This is because they believed it was already covered by existing legislation.

But as campaigners have pointed out, when abusers are charged with “umbrella” offences like common assault, they will often get away with less than six months in jail. This is made more likely by the fact that evidence of strangulation and suffocation is usually difficult to see.

The Lead for Domestic Abuse Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Kate Brown, has said that “because this type of offending may leave no physical mark, the serious nature of it has not always been appreciated.”

These new specific offences will give prosecutors and investigators the power to bring punishments that are in line with the type and severity of abusers’ crimes. This could be vital in breaking cycles of abuse and protecting people from repeated offences.

Non-fatal strangulation has often been seen as a red flag for escalating violence in a relationship, and the NHS revealed that it will almost always result in further abuse. It is reported by ITV that there are more than 200 people who have been charged with non-fatal strangulation offences in the first year of this new law coming into effect, meaning that it is already making a change.

In this first year, over 1,110 people were arrested over non-fatal strangulation offences in Nottinghamshire, and Detective Inspector, Dan Evans said of the matter;

“In the 12 months since we have had some really great results as a result, including a man jailed for 21 months for grabbing a woman by the throat, and another jailed for 18 months for a similar offence.

“Even in cases where we don’t have sufficient evidence to bring a charge, the act of arresting and interviewing a suspect on suspicion of this offence gives us plenty of additional options to help protect victims from harm”

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How has the New Legislation been Enforced?

As Abuse Solicitors, we welcome the legislation but we know that there will need to be a co-ordinated effort by the Government to make sure it’s effective in practice – and it is well under way already.

With efforts going into making arrests  and awareness campaigns being launched, there is a clear and conscious effort being made following  new legislation.

The CPS has said that they will be developing more training for prosecutors to “ensure the offences are properly identified from the outset.” But there will also need to be guidance for police officers and front-liners workers so that they can recognise the signs of strangulation and suffocation.

We have already seen a man charged for non-fatal strangulation in Tameside. He appeared in Manchester Magistrates’ Court and became the first person to be sentenced for this offence in 2022. Greater Manchester Police referred to this as “another step in (its) commitment to tackling domestic abuse.” Since then, there have been hundreds prosecuted for these heinous acts.

This news is promising and we hope the Government will act to make sure this legislation serves as a milestone by putting sufficient community services in place as well as providing consistent and ongoing training for first responders and prosecutors.

Minister for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls, Victoria Atkins MP said, “This government is determined to tackle abuse in its many forms, make our streets safer and better protect women and girls which is why perpetrators who strangle their partners in this way will now face up to five years behind bars for the torment they have inflicted.”

Latest News

As of 23rd October 2023, there had been a new awareness campaign adopted by the whole of Northern Ireland that promoted non-fatal strangulation as a criminal offence. Shared in the BBC, ITV, and many more media outlets, this campaign saw The Department of Justice initiative appear on television screens across the country.

How Simpson Millar Can help

If you’ve been affected by domestic abuse, you aren’t alone. Our experienced solicitors are able to help you get the support you need and provide you with details of organisations who may be able to help.

We’re happy to talk you through the claims process so you’re clear about what will happen and you’re under no obligation to make a claim. We want you to be comfortable with the process and with your Solicitor so get in touch by calling us on 0808 239 1287 for a free, initial discussion.


UK Government. (2022, June 7). New non-fatal strangulation offence comes into force. (2021). Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

Express & Star. (2022, June 7). Abusers face up to five years in jail with new non-fatal strangulation offence.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). (n.d.). Forensic aspects of strangulation.

ITV News. (2023, July 1). New law change sees hundreds charged with non-fatal strangulation.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). (n.d.). New strangulation and suffocation laws will help protect victims.

Hywel Thomas Profile Picture

Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

With a background in Personal Injury Claims and Criminal Injury Compensation Claims, Hywel started specialising in Abuse Claims in 2001. Over the years, he has seen the area of abuse law evolve, presenting new challenges and learning opportunities. He has tackled cases against diverse groups, from local authorities to private schools, charities, medical organisations, and even individuals.

His passion for understanding psychological injuries led him to this area of Law.  Hywel's work extends beyond seeking financial compensation for his clients; he focuses on helping victims and survivors access support, making a real difference in their healing process. He values each client's unique motivations, ensuring they achieve what they desire through the legal process.

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