CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed plans for a new strangulation law.

Justice Secretary and South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said he wanted to make non-fatal strangulation a crime. It followed efforts by politicians to add the offence to the Domestic Abuse Bill, currently being debated by parliamentarians.  

Mr Buckland suggested that the offence could be included in future legislation, according to reports. That represented a change to the government’s position last week, when the Ministry of Justice said non-fatal strangulation was already covered by offences like common assault and attempted murder.

Swindon campaigner Frank Mullane of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse, whose sister and nephew Julia and William Pemberton were killed by her estranged husband, welcomed the plans to make non-fatal strangulation.

He said he had met the Justice Secretary with other campaigners last week and praised Mr Buckland for taking the issue on.

“Non-fatal Strangulation is a despicable and sickening crime, all about power and control, and is usually always under-estimated or not even seen by the criminal justice system. Having a separate offence will force the criminal justice system to react to it properly,” he said.

Mr Mullane said many of those murdered by partners or relatives had been throttled by their abusers prior to their deaths. “I have assessed over 800 domestic homicide reviews for the Home Office and time and time again I see non-fatal strangulation in the histories of those who are killed.”

Campaigners have complained that non-fatal strangulation is typically charged as a common assault, a summary crime with a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment.

This week, Mr Buckland told the BBC: "There are too many violent offenders not getting sentences proportionate to the seriousness of their crimes because in many cases, prosecutors don't have adequate charging options where the victim has been strangled.

"The vast majority of these crimes are committed against women and they are often a precursor to even more serious violence."