NSW is pushing to upgrade serious strangulation offences to be in the same category as murder and manslaughter in a bid to reduce domestic violence rates.
Proposed amendments to the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006, which are set to be introduced to parliament on Wednesday, would include non-fatal strangulation in the definitions for a serious violence offence and serious sex offence.
This means if an offender is believed to pose an unacceptable risk of committing another serious offence, an application could be made to the NSW Supreme Court against their release from jail or for an order for strict supervision.
Research indicates nonlethal strangulation is a key marker for further harm in domestic violence relationships.
Figures from the Journal of Emergency Medicine show attempted strangulation increased the risk of a domestic violence victim being subjected to attempted homicide by 700 per cent and their risk of becoming a homicide victim by 800 per cent.
Statistics from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research also show domestic violence and sexual assaults had increased in the last five years, with domestic violence assaults up by 13.5 per cent and sexual assaults by 29.8 per cent.
NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said the proposed changes were “informed by research” and hoped they would reduce soaring domestic violence rates.
“Reducing domestic violence is a top priority for the NSW government. It is crucial that our legislation capture the kind of violent offending that may escalate to homicide,” he said.
“This Bill leaves no doubt as to the gravity of serious strangulation offences and sends a strong message to offenders who continue to pose an unacceptable risk of committing a serious offence at the end of their prison sentence.”
Police Minister Yasmin Catley reaffirmed the state government’s “resolute commitment” to reducing domestic and family violence.
“These amendments send a strong message to abusers,” she said.
“Strangulation and choking must be taken extremely seriously and that’s what this government is doing.
“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.”
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she welcomed the proposed changes.
“We understand that in domestic violence situations particularly that strangulation is an element of particularly high risk to victims, so we welcome that,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
In 2018, NSW became the first state to make strangulation a stand-alone offence that carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.