National Statistics

Women and the criminal justice system 2013

A summary report by a range of agencies relating to the experience of women in the criminal justice system.

Documents

Statistics on women and the criminal justice system 2013

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Infographic

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Chapter 3: victims tables

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Chapter 4: police activity tables

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Chapter 5: defendants tables

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Chapter 6: offender characteristics tables

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Chapter 7: offence analysis tables

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Chapter 8: offender management tables

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Chapter 9: staff and practitioners tables

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Details

Biennial statistics on the representation of females and males as victims, suspects, offenders and employees in the criminal justice system.

These reports are released by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and produced in accordance with arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Introduction

This report provides information about how females and males were represented in the criminal justice system (CJS) in the most recent year for which data were available, and, wherever possible, across the last 5 years. Under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 the government has to publish statistical data to assess whether any discrimination exists in how the CJS treats people based on their gender.

These statistics are used by policy makers, the agencies who comprise the CJS and others (eg, academics) to monitor differences between females and males, and to highlight areas where practitioners and others may wish to undertake more in-depth analysis. The identification of differences should not be equated with discrimination as there are many reasons why apparent disparities may exist.

Specific findings

Victims of crime

The 2013 to 2014 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that around 1 in 20 people aged 16 and over reported being a victim of personal crime in the last 12 months. This has been lower for women in each year that the survey has been conducted, but has decreased for men over the past 5 years and for the last 2 years there has been no statistically significant difference between the rates for women and men.

A higher proportion of men reported being a victim of violence than women. However the type of perpetrator varied by gender, with men more likely to be a victim of violence by an acquaintance or stranger and women more likely to be a victim of domestic violence.

Women were more likely than men to have experienced intimate violence since the age of 16, with women twice as likely as men to have reported being a victim of non-sexual partner abuse (the most commonly experienced type of intimate violence) and seven times as likely as men to have reported being a victim of sexual assault. Women were also more likely than men to have experienced intimate violence in the previous 12 months.

Women have accounted for about 3 in 10 homicide victims in each year since 2003 to 2004, with over half having been killed by a partner or ex-partner. In contrast, men were more often killed by a friend or acquaintance.

Police activity

The number of arrests fell by around half for males and around 60 per cent for females between 2008 to 2009 and 2012 to 2013, broadly reflecting trends in police recorded crime, which saw a 21% reduction over the same period. Violence against the person and theft and handling were consistently the 2 offence groups with the highest number of arrests for both males and females, together making up around half of male arrests and two-thirds of female arrests.

Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) fell slightly faster for males than for females between 2009 and 2013, with males consistently making up around three-quarters of PNDs. The offences for which males and females were given PNDs varied, with around half of PNDs issued to females being for retail theft of under £100 in value, while this made up only around a fifth of PNDs issued to males. An increased use of PNDs for possession of cannabis was seen during the 5-year period, with an increase by nearly half for females and a fifth for males from 2009 to 2013, although this fell slightly in the most recent year.

Although the use of cautions fell between 2009 and 2013, they fell faster for juveniles (aged under 18) for both genders. Summary offences (less serious) made up around half of cautions issued to both males and females, although cautions issued for indictable offences were more likely for juvenile males than for juvenile females..

Defendants

Prosecutions, and subsequently convictions, fell for both genders between 2009 and 2013, although the decline was sharper for males. Summary offence prosecutions (both motoring and non-motoring) saw a larger drop for males whereas indictable offence prosecutions saw a larger drop for females.

The conviction ratio increased for both male and female defendants between 2003 and 2008 and then remained broadly stable. It has been consistently slightly higher for females than males over the past decade.

For defendants appearing at the Crown Court in 2013, males were nearly twice as likely as females to be remanded in custody. Of those remanded in custody, males were more likely to go on to receive an immediate custodial sentence.

For both male and female offenders in the 5 years from 2009 to 2013, fines were the most common sentence at court. Males were more likely to be given an immediate custodial sentence than females. The different disposal profiles of males and females can be largely attributed to the different types of offences they commit, with females more likely to commit the less serious, summary offences.

In 2013, custody was the most common sentence for males for indictable offences, whilst community sentences were the most common sentence outcome for females. Of those sentenced to custody for indictable offences, the average custodial sentence lengths were lower for female offenders compared with male offenders for all offence groups.

Offending histories

Female offenders were less likely than male offenders to have any previous cautions or convictions throughout the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, with a third of females and only a fifth of males being first-time offenders in 2013.

Mitigating and aggravating factors

In 2013, for the 2 offence categories of ‘theft, dishonesty and fraud’, and ‘assault and public order offences’, female offenders were generally more likely than males to have mitigating factors applied to their sentence and males were generally more likely than females to have aggravating factors applied.

For female offenders, the predominant mitigating factors that were included (within the offence groups analysed) included the appearance of genuine remorse, the age of the offender, the offender having caring responsibilities and a lack of previous relevant convictions. Male offenders were less likely to have any of these taken into account, especially in relation to having caring responsibilities.

The aggravating factors that appeared for male offenders included the presence of previous relevant convictions, the location of the offence, being a member of a group or gang and evidence of some degree of pre-planning or pre-meditation. All of these were less likely to appear for females, although threatened or actual use of weapons (or equivalent) appeared for a similar proportion of both genders.

The differing use of mitigating and aggravating factors by gender contributed to differing custody rates, with males being far more likely to be given an immediate custodial sentence than females, although this can also partly be explained by the specific offences committed by males and females.

Shoplifting

In 2013, shoplifting made up the majority of theft offences for both male and female offenders, although the proportion was higher for females. Shoplifting made up nearly half of all indictable convictions for females, and just under a quarter of all indictable convictions for males. The two most common disposals for both genders were conditional discharges and community sentences (of those sentenced at court). Males were far more likely to get an immediate custodial sentence.

Employment, income and benefits before and after conviction/caution/release from prison

In 2010 to 2011, female offenders were more likely than male offenders to be on benefits before and after their caution, conviction or prison sentence, whereas in the general population, males were more likely than females to be on benefits. P45 employment levels were very similar for both male and female offenders at the time of conviction/caution or release from custody, but males had a higher average income than females.

Prisons

The male prison population has increased over the last 10 years, whilst the female prison population has decreased, with females making up just under 1 in 20 prisoners on 30 June 2014.

Of those in prison under sentence, a larger proportion of the male prison population were serving an indeterminate sentence compared with the female prison population, and male prisoners were generally serving longer sentences than females.

In 2013, the rate of adjudications was higher for female prisoners than it was for males, although adjudications have been falling over the past decade for both genders. Per 1,000 prisoners in 2013, males committed more assaults and more serious assaults than females, although females committed more assaults on staff.

Although in 2013 female prisoners remained far more likely to self-harm than males, figures for self-harming have decreased in recent years for females, whilst they have increased for males, and self-harm incidents for males tend to be more severe, with a larger proportion resulting in hospital attendance.

Probation

In 2013, women accounted for around 16% of those under supervision as part of a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order (SSO), and this proportion has remained stable since 2007. Women generally had fewer requirements to comply with than men, and had a shorter average order length. Women were also more likely than men to successfully complete both Community Orders and SSOs, and also to have them terminated early for good progress.

Reoffending

In the most recent period (2012), males (both adults and juveniles) reoffended at a higher rate than females (27.7% compared to 18.5%), and this has not changed over the past 10 years.

Index offences related to theft and robbery saw the highest rates of reoffending for adults of both genders. For some index offence groups, the proportion of adult males who reoffended was more than double the corresponding proportion of adult females, including violence against the person, fraud offences and summary motoring offences.

Staff and practitioners

In the most recent period, the representation of women varied substantially across the criminal justice system agencies ranging from as high as 72% in the Probation Service and two-thirds of staff at the MOJ, to a quarter of staff in the Police Service and the judiciary in the most recent period. The proportion that women accounted for in most of these agencies/organisations has increased over the last 5 years, although women are still considerably less well-represented in senior positions than men.

Pre-release access

The bulletin is produced and handled by MOJ’s analytical professionals and production staff. Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:

Ministry of Justice

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (jointly with the Home Office); Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties; Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Justice; two Special Advisers; Six Press Officers; Policy official on PNDs; Policy official on Cautions; Policy official on Sentencing; Head of Sentencing; two Policy officials on Women; official on Judicial Policy.

National Offender Management Service:

Lead on women offenders.

Home Office:

Home Secretary; Home Office Statistician; five Home Office Press Officers; Policy official for Violence Against Women; Policy official on Victims; Policy official on domestic violence and abuse; Policy official on Arrests; Policy official on Police.

Government Equalities Office:

Minister for Women and Equalities;

Judiciary:

Senior Presiding Judge and Lord Chief Justice.

Other Ministry of Justice publications containing statistics (quarterly and annual) on gender

Criminal Justice Statistics Offender Management Statistics Quarterly Proven Reoffending Safety in Custody

Published 27 November 2014