NSW introduces amendments to strengthen laws on serious strangulation offences

Non-fatal strangulation is a key marker for escalation of domestic violence

NSW introduces amendments to strengthen laws on serious strangulation offences

The New South Wales (NSW) government has introduced crucial amendments to the Crimes (High-Risk Offenders) Act 2006 into Parliament to increase community protection.

The proposed amendments focus on serious strangulation offences, particularly in cases of domestic and family violence. The amendments aim to empower the Supreme Court of NSW to consider applications against release or strict supervision orders if an offender is deemed to pose an unacceptable risk of committing another serious offence.

The critical aspect of these amendments is the inclusion of serious strangulation offences in the definitions of “serious violence offence” and “serious sex offence.” The amendments place strangulation offences in the same category as other heinous crimes such as murder, manslaughter, and intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The NSW government highlighted the fact that non-fatal strangulation is well known as a key marker for the escalation of violence in a domestic relationship. It is a strong indicator of future risk for serious harm and death of the victim.

The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team report showed a link between strangulation and domestic homicide, and over a quarter of intimate partner homicides involved the abuser strangling the victim during a prior attack. The statistics underscored the urgency of addressing domestic violence, with domestic violence assaults and sexual assaults being the only major crime categories showing an upward trend in the last five years, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The NSW government stressed that domestic and family violence is one of the most challenging issues that NSW faces and that responses are required right across the spectrum.

“The fact is domestic and family violence is a pervasive scourge on our society; the trauma not only impacts the victim but their family, friends and the entire community,” said Yasmin Catley, minister for police and counter-terrorism.

Attorney general Michael Daley underscored the importance of legislative measures capturing violent offences that may escalate to homicide. “The amendments to the Crimes (High-Risk Offenders) Act 2006 are informed by research that has identified patterns of behaviours committed by domestic and family violence perpetrators,” Daley said.

Minister for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault Jodie Harrison has expressed his commitment to work with the attorney general and police minister to ensure women and children in NSW are kept safe.

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