The Courier Mail – AAP

August 5, 2015 9:26pm

AUSTRALIAN women are 800 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed after a strangulation incident, an inquiry has been told.

A CRIMINAL strangulation offence needs to be introduced to warn police of a perpetrator’s history of strangulation, University of Queensland law professor Heather Douglas told the family violence royal commission in Melbourne on Thursday.

“The risks increase some 800-fold after an incident of strangulation that a woman will receive serious injury or be killed in the weeks after the event,” Prof Douglas said.”Having a previous history of strangulation on a police record is going to be important information for police to know about when they’re coming to another callout.”Existing offences can encapsulate strangulation, but it’s not always directly noted, she said.In her family violence research Prof Douglas found Australian police don’t often ask directly about strangulation.She said a specific charge would not only add to the range of options available to police but would also reflect the exact behaviour.Helen Fatouros, the director of criminal law services at Victoria Legal Aid, emphasised in her evidence to the commission that there needed to be flexibility in reforms.She said this was particularly important around witnesses giving evidence either in court or remotely.”Where victims do have some choice, where they feel strong enough to give evidence in the courtroom, it can be very empowering,” she said.”Having some flexibility in the provisions to enable that is important.”The royal commission continues.

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