National Statistics

Women and the criminal justice system 2017

This report compiles statistics from data sources across the Criminal Justice System, to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of the different sex groups in England and Wales, 2017.

Documents

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: Offenders under supervision or in custody tables

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Chapter 7: Offender characteristics tables

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Chapter 8: Offence analysis tables

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Chapter 9: Practitioners tables

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Details

Biennial statistics on the representation of sex groups as victims, suspects, defendants offenders and employees in the Criminal Justice System (CJS).

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

Introduction

The ‘Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2017’ bulletin is a compendium of statistics from data sources across the CJS to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of males and females who come into contact with it. It brings together information on representation by sex among victims, suspects, defendants, offenders and practitioners within the CJS and considers how these experiences have changed over time and how they contrast to the typical experiences of males. No causative links can be drawn from these summary statistics, and no controls have been applied to account for differences in circumstances between the males and females (e.g. offence, average income or age); differences observed may indicate areas worth further investigation, but should not be taken as evidence of unequal treatments or as direct effects of sex. In general, females appear to be substantially underrepresented throughout the CJS compared with males. This is particularly true in relation to the most serious offence types and sentences, though patterns by sex vary between individual offences.

Key findings

Victimisation

  • Males are more likely to be victims of a personal crime than females. 4.4% of males reported being a victim of a personal crime in 2017/18, while 3.5% of females reported victimisation. Overall personal crime rates continue to decrease, with a decrease of 1.9 percentage points for males, females and overall since 2011.
  • In 2017/18, 7.9% of females reported experiencing domestic abuse in the last year, compared to 4.2% of males. The proportion of females who were a victim of domestic abuse at some point since the age of 16 was over twice the size of the proportion of males, with 28.9% of females reporting this compared to 13.2% of males.
  • There were 613 homicide victims in 2016/17 excluding the Hillsborough disaster, of which, 71% were male and 29% were female. There was an 8% increase in homicide victims (excluding Hillsborough) since 2015/16 (25% increase when Hillsborough victims were included).

Police activity

  • The majority (85%) of arrests continue to be accounted for by males in 2017/18. The number of arrests has decreased by 8% overall compared to 2016/17, and by 8% for males and 11% for females.
  • Higher proportions of females in contact with Liaison and Diversion Services had mental health needs than males. 69% of adult females had mental health needs compared to 61% of adult males, where depressive illness was the most common need. In young people, 51% of females had mental health needs compared to 41% of males, where emotional and behavioural issues was the most common need.
  • The proportion of offenders issued Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) and cautions has decreased over the last 5 years, the proportion issued to males and females has remained stable. Compared to 2013, the number of PNDs issued has fallen by 69% to 25,900; 78% of which were issued to males and 22% issued to females. The number of offenders issued cautions has decreased by 54% to 83,300 when compared to 2013; of those cautioned, 77% were male and 23% were female.

Defendants

  • In 2017, 74% of defendants prosecuted were male, and 26% were female. The number of prosecutions of male defendants declined steadily over the past decade by 32% (from 1.4 million in 2007 to 936,000 in 2017), while the number of female defendants decreased by 4% between 2007 and 2017.
  • The conviction ratio in 2017 was higher for female (88%) than male (86%) offenders, a trend that is consistent over the past decade. Since 2007, the conviction ratio for females increased from 84% to 88% in 2017. Males followed a similar trend with a conviction ratio of 81% in 2007 to 86% in 2017.
  • The custody rate was higher for male offenders in each year of the last decade. Males had a higher custody rate for indictable offences (34%) than females (20%). Females were 43% less likely to be sentenced to custody for indictable offences, relative to males.
  • Average custodial sentence length (ACSL) for male offenders in 2017 was 17.6 months, and 10.0 months for females. This is driven in part by a higher proportion of female offenders receiving shorter sentence lengths of up to and including three months (57%), compared with 35% of male offenders. Offenders under supervision or in custody
  • At 30 June 2018, 95% of all prisoners were male and 5% were female. The total prison population at this point was 82,773, made up of 78,970 males and 3,803 females, however the proportion representation has remained stable over time.
  • Proportionally, females in custody were serving shorter sentences than males. At 30 June 2018, 22% of females in prison were serving determinate sentences of less than 12 months, compared to 9% of males. 15% of females in prison were serving determinate sentences of less than 6 months, compared to 6% for males.
  • A higher proportion of female prisoners reported to have an alcohol or drug problem upon arrival into prison than males. Significantly more females had an alcohol problem when they arrived in prison (24%) than males (18%); similarly for a drug problem (39% compared to 28%).
  • Females were significantly more likely to self-harm in prison, relative to males. Females had a higher rate of self harm incidents in prison (30%) than males (13%). females were 135% more likely to self harm in prison, relative to males.

Offender characteristics

  • The prosecution rate was twice as high for Black female defendants than White female defendants and over four times higher for Black male defendants than White males. In 2017, the rate of prosecution was 2 per 1,000 population for Black female defendants 29 per 1,000 for black male defendants. Compared to 1 per 1,000 for White female defendant and 7 per 1,000 for White male defendants.
  • The age distribution of female and male defendants is broadly similar, with the majority of prosecutions concentrated between the ages of 20 and 45. For both sexes, the 25 to 29 age band represented the highest number of those prosecuted in 2017, accounting for 18% of both sexes. Across most age groups, approximately 3 times more males were prosecuted than females.
  • A higher proportion of female offenders had no previous offender history, compared to males. A higher proportion of male offenders had a long criminal history. In 2017, a greater proportion of female offenders were first time offenders (females 34% and males 21%). Male offenders tended to have a longer offender history, 26% of male offenders had 15 or more previous cautions or convictions compared to 18% of females.
  • The reoffending rate for males was higher than for females, however, females had the highest number of reoffences per reoffender. Despite the lower reoffending rate (23.4% compared to 30.7% for males), female reoffenders had the highest average number of reoffences per reoffender, 4.32 compared to 4.02 for males.
  • A higher proportion of females were claiming out-of-work benefits after conviction/ caution or release from prison. A higher proportion of males were in P45 employment and had a higher median P14 income. Two years after conviction/caution or prison sentence, 50% of female offenders and 35% of males were on out-of-work benefits. A higher proportion of male offenders were in P45 employment (38%), compared to 35% of females and males had a higher adjusted P14 income (£15,600 compared to £9,100).

Offence analysis

  • Females accounted for 72% of prosecutions for TV license evasion in 2017. TV license evasion was the most common offence for which females were prosecuted for. In 2017, TV license evasion accounted for 30% of all female prosecutions, compared to 4% of male prosecutions.
  • 72% of defendants prosecuted for truancy (parent failing to secure attendance of child) were female. Of the 16,400 defendants prosecuted for truancy, 11,800 (72%) were female. The conviction ratio for truancy was higher for females (80%) than males (70%). For both sexes, the most common outcome was a fine in 2017.
  • Shoplifting was the most common indictable offence that both males and females were prosecuted for. Shoplifting accounted for 38% of all female indictable prosecutions, however, the proportion for males was smaller, accounting for 17% of indictable prosecutions.

Practitioners

  • Over the last 5 years, the representation of females has remained relatively constant in MOJ and CPS, however there have been increases in female representation in other organisations. The largest increase in female representation was seen in HMPPS HQ by 10 percentage points to 59%. Other increases include a 5 percentage point increase in female court judges to 29%, and a 6 percentage point increase in HMPPS (excluding probation) to 40%.
  • The representation of females in senior staff was lower than the proportion of staff at all grades across the CJS organisations considered in this bulletin. The highest proportions of senior staff who were female were in the CPS (54%) and MOJ (48%), where the CPS was the only organisation considered in this bulletin with a higher proportion of females at senior grades than males.

Pre-release access

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

MOJ

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Minister of State for Justice; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for court services and reform, legal aid and Criminal Justice; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for victims (including domestic abuse), women offenders, youth justice, offender health and Mental capacity; Lords spokesperson – Ministry of Justice; Permanent Secretary; Director General, Offender Reform and Commissioning Group; Director, Family and Criminal Justice Policy; Deputy Director, Bail, Sentencing and Release Policy; Section Head, Criminal Court Policy; Director, Offender and Youth Justice Policy; Principal Researcher, Prison Reform Analysis (Female Offenders); Director, Analysis and Data Driven Department and Culture Change; Acting Chief Statistician for Ministry of Justice; Head of Criminal Justice System Statistics; Head of HMPPS Equalities Statistics; Equalities analysts; Head of YJC Statistics; Senior Data Analyst, YJB; 2 legal aid analysts; Head of Prison and Probation Statistics; Head of Mental Health Casework Selection; 7 Policy Advisers; 17 Private Secretaries; Press Officers; and 2 Special Advisers.

Home Office

Home Secretary; Permanent Secretary, Home Office; Director of Crime, Home Office; Chief Statistician; Head of Crime and Policing Statistics; Crime and Policing Analyst; 1 Policy Adviser; 6 Private Secretaries; 2 Press Officers; and 1 Special Adviser.

Lord Chief Justice’s Office

Lord Chief Justice; Head of the Criminal Justice Team; and 1 Private Secretary;

Office for National Statistics

Deputy head of Crime Statistics; 2 research officers.

Department for Work and Pensions

3 analysts.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

1 analyst.

NHS England

1 Commissioning Adviser

HM Inspectorate of Prisons

1 Research Officer

Published 29 November 2018