Police back introduction of strangulation charge

17:00, Jun 30 2014

Introducing a specific charge for strangulation has the full support of New Plymouth police's head of domestic violence.

Detective Sergeant David Beattie said it was commonly accepted that strangulation was a red flag.

"It's an extremely dangerous situation when the partner takes the woman by the throat and exerts that level of power and control," he said.

The annual report from the Family Violence Death Review Committee, released last week, found that strangulation was a key indicator of future serious abuse and potential fatalities.

At present, strangulations are prosecuted under the broader category of male assaults female. As such, the report found the extreme danger and potential for death involved with strangulation was downplayed.

Strangulation could cause loss of consciousness within 10 seconds and nine of 63 deaths involving intimate partners included an act of strangulation.

Beattie said making a specific charge for strangulation would highlight the seriousness of a case when it was reviewed. "It would definitely stand out and make a better case."

The report also calls for several other changes in how New Zealand responds to domestic abuse. More focus needed to be placed on support services and society preventing violence, rather than leaving victims to look after themselves and their families, it said.

It also calls for victims who kill their abusers to be charged with manslaughter rather than murder.

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