By: Melissa Grant
QUEENSLAND, AUS – Queenslanders are strangling their partners and relatives at an alarming rate, in a crime police say is often a precursor to domestic homicide.
Statistics show 239 people have been charged with a non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation in a domestic relationship in the six months since the actions became a stand-alone offence in Queensland.
That’s 39 people a month. More than one a day.
All bar five of those charged with the offence have been men.
The crime, which carries a maximum seven years’ imprisonment, was introduced in April in a move to reduce domestic violence and protect victims.
The new charge helps police identify the violent offending regarded as predictive of an escalation in domestic violence including homicide.
Already this year, nine people have been killed in alleged domestic violence incidents in Queensland.
Acting Senior Sergeant Melissa McMahon said the new offence was helping police protect domestic violence victims as it prevented strangulation or suffocation from being written off as an assault.
“The information we present to the magistrate is tightly packaged up as potentially a homicide waiting to happen,” the officer from the Domestic Family Violence and Vulnerable Persons Unit told AAP.
“The message becomes a lot clearer about how close the offender behaviour was to that potential homicide.”
Proving the charge can be difficult, though a handful of people have already been successfully prosecuted, and police are looking to implement training for officers to help them to detect signs of strangulation.
Acting Snr Sgt McMahon said strangulation was a demonstration of power and control in a relationship.
She said she wasn’t surprised at how many people had been charged with the offence in just six months because police were already aware about the prevalence of the dangerous behaviour.
Queensland parliament introduced landmark laws including the separate offence, which was one of the recommendations on a special domestic violence taskforce.
Amendments were also passed to make domestic violence an aggravating factor on sentence.
PEOPLE CHARGED WITH NON-FATAL CHOKING, STRANGULATION AND SUFFOCATION BY REGION:
* Brisbane: 57
* Southeastern (Logan, Gold Coast): 51
* Southern (Darling Downs, Moreton, Ipswich, Southwest): 40
* Central Queensland (Mackay, Capricornia, Wide Bay): 41
* Northern Queensland (Mt Isa, Townsville, far north): 50
(Statistics from April 19 to October 16. Source: Queensland Police)
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.
Article Source: Choking high in Qld, new DV laws reveal
By: Melissa Grant