AT LEAST 12 of the domestic violence incidents investigated on the Sunshine Coast in the past month have involved women being strangled or choked.
The cases have alarmed officers of the Sunshine Coast Vulnerable Person Unit as they hone their skills in detecting and prosecuting the offence.
Charges have been laid against three men, with investigations continuing in regards to another.
Vulnerable Person Unit officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Dave Bradley said Sunshine Coast police had stepped up investigation and prosecution of choking offences in the past three weeks.
“There are probably more (men) about to be charged,” Snr Sgt Bradley said.
“We have been drilling down and looking at the problem a lot more carefully and it is leaping out of the page at us,” he said.
“It’s bigger than we thought it was.”
He said four Sunshine Coast police attended a two-day workshop last week focused on protecting victims of strangulation and tools to better investigate offences.
The information learned from US-based strangulation experts Gael Strack and William Smock gave insight into its seriousness.
“If you get strangled by your partner you are 800% more likely to be killed by them (than someone who is not strangled by their partner) at some stage,” Snr Sgt Bradley said.
A law specifically targeting domestic violence strangulation was inserted into the Criminal Code on May 5 last year.
It came as a result of recommendations made in the Not Now Not Ever Report into domestic violence.
The “choking, suffocating or strangulation in a domestic setting” charge carries a seven-year maximum jail sentence.
Officers do not need a complaint to be made to charge someone for the offence.
That means a victim cannot stop police from prosecuting their attacker should they want to protect them.
Snr Sgt Bradley said Sunshine Coast police now could now better respond to strangulations and identify the risks for victims.
He said up to half of non-lethal strangulation cases had no physical signs and required a medical practitioner’s assessment to determine injury.
“A priority is to get the victim to a suitable practitioner to assess them for their health and secure the relevant evidence for an investigation,” he said.
IF YOU NEED HELP: For 24-hour support phone Queensland’s DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or Men’s Line on 1800 600 636, NSW’s Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).