Justice Minister and South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has welcomed the presentation of a raft of new amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which will provide greater protection for victims and further clamping down on perpetrators.
The proposals include making non-fatal strangulation a specific criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison. The act typically involves an abuser strangling or intentionally affecting their victim’s breathing in an attempt to control or intimidate them. The announcement follows concerns that perpetrators were avoiding punishment as the practice can often leave no visible injury, making it harder to prosecute under existing offences such as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH).
Justice Minister and Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, who was the Minister who brought in the original Coercive Control offence, has said that legislation will be strengthened around controlling or coercive behaviour (CCB) – no longer making it a requirement for abusers and victims to live together. The change follows a government review which highlighted that those who leave abusive ex-partners can often be subjected to sustained or increased controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation.
Meanwhile, so-called ‘revenge porn’ laws – introduced by the government in 2015 – will be widened to include threats to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress. More than 900 abusers have been convicted since revenge porn was outlawed but Justice Minister, Robert Buckland says that he is determined to further protect victims, with those who threaten to share such images facing up to two years behind bars.
The confirmed measures have been developed closely with peers, advocates and victims who campaigned on these important issues. They form a series of amendments being tabled to the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill which enters Report Stage next week, with Royal Assent expected in the Spring.
Justice Minister and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said:
“This Bill provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen our response to domestic abuse and its many forms.
“From outlawing non-fatal strangulation to giving better protections in court – we are delivering the support victims need to feel safer while ensuring perpetrators face justice for the torment they have inflicted.”
Swindon group AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse) were part of a large team of individuals and organisations who had been lobbying for the new non-fatal strangulation law. In a press release issued on the website, Founder, Frank Mullane MBE said:
“Strangulation is so common in domestic abuse that it is almost normalised. Safelives calculate that amongst survivors deemed high risk and referred to Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, 37% of those who report physical abuse experience strangulation or attempted strangulation, which adds up to 20,000 women per year across the UK.
“I congratulate the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, for ensuring this becomes law and Baroness Helen Newlove for delivering a compelling argument in the debates in Parliament."
Communications Advisor, Rebecca Clements who works in Robert’s South Swindon Constituency Office was a victim of non-fatal strangulation in 2003, she says:
“Despite suffering from an attack that left me terrified and believing that I would die, there was not enough evidence to convict the preparator of Actual Bodily Harm.
“I am glad that non-fatal strangulation will be made a specific criminal offence so that in the future, perpetrators will be unable to avoid punishment and face up to five years in prison.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or you are worried about someone suffering domestic abuse, please contact Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service on 01793 610610. The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.