Children often present when victims strangled, research suggests

The Crown Prosecution Service analysed a sample of cases involving non-fatal strangulation offences.

A woman in distress crouching on a sofa
A woman in distress crouching on a sofa

Children were present when victims including their own mothers were strangled in more than a third of cases, analysis by prosecutors suggests.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) research six months on from changes in the law indicates how youngsters have been exposed to such violence.

Since June, prosecutors have been able to charge violent abusers with non-fatal strangulation and non-fatal suffocation offences. The CPS reviewed a sample of 32 non-fatal strangulation cases to see how the new law was being used.

According to the findings, a child was present in 38% of cases and some were in the same room or subjected to abuse while the attack was taking place.

In 69% of the cases, the victim was the suspect’s partner and 13% were an ex-partner. Other victims included a son, grandmother and employee.

Victims described feeling like they were going to die, could fall unconscious or could see ‘stars’ during such attacks.

Kate Brown, who leads work on domestic abuse for the CPS, said: “Victims are left fearing for their life in these cases, and we are clear that we take this offending very seriously.

“To see so many children exposed to this kind of violence, often against their own mum, must have a huge impact on them. This is something our prosecutors are trained to consider as we’re building our case.

“This type of offending doesn’t often happen in isolation, suspects may show aggression and violence, regularly leaving victims with serious physical injuries and psychological trauma.

“We are working with our partners to ensure that whenever our legal test is met, we are pursuing non-fatal strangulation and suffocation prosecutions and holding these violent offenders to account.”

Suspects were also charged with assault in 72% of the cases and 13% also faced counts of threats to kill.

The CPS was unable to provide data on all the non-fatal strangulation charges and prosecutions in the system because the legislation has been in force only a few months.

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