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Non-Fatal strangulation and suffocation: proposed sentencing guidelines unveiled

Non-Fatal strangulation and suffocation: proposed sentencing guidelines unveiled


The Sentencing Council has released a draft sentencing guideline for non-fatal strangulation and suffocation offences, aiming to ensure consistent and proportionate sentencing across England and Wales.

The guideline, a response to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, encompasses both domestic and non-domestic contexts and outlines the severity of these acts, which can induce significant psychological harm even in the absence of physical injuries. Her Honour Judge Rosa Dean highlights the gravity of such offences and emphasises the need for appropriate sentencing to address the fear and trauma experienced by victims. Seeking feedback from legal professionals and stakeholders, the Council aims to establish clear and effective sentencing standards for these serious offences.

In a significant move towards ensuring justice and protection for victims of non-fatal strangulation and suffocation, the Sentencing Council has unveiled a draft sentencing guideline for courts across England and Wales. This guideline marks a crucial step towards establishing consistent and proportionate sentencing standards for these serious offences, providing judges and magistrates with clear guidance on appropriate penalties.

Under the proposals, which are now open for consultation, the guideline seeks to address the gravity of non-fatal strangulation and suffocation offences, emphasising their potential to cause significant harm and instil fear in victims. Notably, the guideline covers both domestic and non-domestic situations, recognising the broad scope and severity of these acts.

Non-fatal strangulation, defined as intentionally restricting a victim's ability to breathe, and non-fatal suffocation, characterised by unlawful force that impedes breathing, are highlighted as very serious offences under the proposed guideline. Importantly, it is emphasised that physical injuries are not necessary for these offences to be committed, as the psychological impact alone can be profound.

Her Honour Judge Rosa Dean, who leads the development of the guideline, underscores the importance of ensuring that courts have clear and up-to-date guidance to sentence such offences appropriately. By consolidating principles from recent Court of Appeal judgements into a comprehensive guideline format, the Council aims to streamline sentencing procedures and promote consistency in judicial decisions.

The release of this draft guideline reflects the ongoing efforts to address gaps in sentencing standards and enhance the legal framework for combating domestic abuse and violence against women. Through the consultation process, the Council invites feedback from judges, magistrates, and stakeholders, fostering a collaborative approach to refining and finalising the sentencing guidelines.

In line with its commitment to transparency and accountability, the Sentencing Council reaffirms its role as an independent body accountable to Parliament. By establishing clear sentencing ranges and promoting adherence to sentencing guidelines, the Council strives to uphold justice and protect the rights of victims, setting a precedent for fair and effective sentencing practices across the jurisdiction.