Report – Strangulation and Suffocation Offences Police Data Report 2024 – Institute for Addressing Strangulation

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Being able to analyse 12 months of data from the introduction of new legislation is incredibly beneficial in considering some of the impact of criminal justice responses. However, the lack of data from some police force areas, and the proportion of missing and unknown data across the board is concerning, and does somewhat limit the conclusions which can be drawn. Although it will most likely not be possible to record all data for all cases (e.g. where a suspect hasn’t been identified), it should be an expectation that data are collated and recorded
in all possible circumstances. This allows analysts and criminal justice professionals to assess the impact, and dynamics around perpetration/victimisation, of particular offences on and by different demographic groups.

This should then be considered amongst other ongoing work around the recording of, particularly, ethnicity data, and conversations regarding confidence (or lack thereof) in the police by individuals of different identities*.

As well as considering what could be established as ‘high risk’ demographic groups, the data broken down by relationship type tells us more about the nuances of the presentations of these offences. For instance, the distribution of common age groups of victims changes considerably between intimate partner and familial offences. In addition, these relationship categories remind us
that strangulation is happening outside of intimate relationships, and outside of adult relationships entirely (i.e. with children). The representation of children in familial abuse, in particular, should raise questions about
safeguarding responses specific to this issue.

However, additional relationship dynamics may currently be hidden in the ‘Other’ relationship category, thus demonstrating again the need for more consistent recording of information in all cases where possible.

Consistently and significantly, the lack of progression due to evidential difficulties is proving to be the most common outcome for criminal justice cases of strangulation and suffocation. More work needs to be done to understand where these challenges lie, particularly where victims are supporting the furthering of cases and therefore, presumably, in many instances, willing to provide available evidence.

These next steps may be informed by: awareness-raising for victim/survivors around their options for support and criminal justice intervention post-strangulation/suffocation; awareness-raising for criminal justice professionals regarding the varied presentations of strangulation and suffocation in terms of
physical and psychological impacts; clearly and consistently applied application of legal processes with particular respect to the evidential requirements for strangulation and suffocation cases.

Taken together, these data provide a helpful overview as to the makeup of strangulation and suffocation police reports at this point in time. However, they also demonstrate there is progress yet to be made in the criminal justice response to these cases

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