Resource: New Fawcett Report – Criminal Justice System ‘Institutionally Sexist’

14May09

A new report published by the Fawcett Society’s Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System (1) finds widespread discrimination in practices and attitudes towards women across the criminal justice system. (2) The Macpherson report demonstrated how institutional racism was affecting criminal justice agencies. (3) Today’s report places institutional sexism firmly on the agenda.

Key Statistics:

Female staff

• In 2008, only 12 percent of police officers at Chief Inspector grade and above were women; less than a quarter of prison governors were female and less than one in four prison officers were women. (4)

• Only 15.9 percent of partners in the UK’s ten largest law firms were women in 2008 and there were only 42 female compared to 479 male silks. The number of female applicants for Queen’s Counsel was at its lowest level for ten years. (5)

• In 2008, just over 10 percent of the 109 High Court Judges were women and just 3 out of the 37 Lord Justices of Appeal were women. There is only one female law lord. (6) In contrast, the Supreme Court of Canada is 44 percent female and the High Court of Australia is 43 percent female.

Female victims of crime

• An estimated 3 million women across the UK experience rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, trafficking, or other forms of violence each year.

• Only 15 percent of serious sexual offences against adults are reported to the police and of the rape offences that are reported only 6.5 percent result in conviction.

• One in four people still believe that a woman is partially responsible for being raped if she is drunk and one in three think she is partially responsible if she flirted heavily with the man beforehand. (7)

• Over a quarter of local authorities across Britain have no specialised VAW support services. (8)

Female Offenders:

• On 3 April 2009, the female prison population stood at 4,309 compared to a mid-year female prison population of 2,672 in 1997. Population projections released by the Ministry of Justice in January, indicate at best the female prison population may decrease by 200 by 2015, at worst it will increase to 5,100. (9)

• Too many women are being imprisoned for short sentences for non-violent crime, including the non-payment of fines and television licences. In 2007, 63.3 percent of women were sentenced to sentences of six months or less.

• Imprisoning mothers affects children too – almost 18,000 children are separated from their mothers each year. Between April 2005 and July 2008, 283 children were born to women in prison.

• Prison does not address the causes of women’s offending. More than one in three have histories of sexual abuse and over half have been the victims of domestic abuse. (10)

Download the report here

Related Articles : Our Prisons Are Failing Women (The Guardian)

Justice System a ‘Sexist Operation’, Study Finds (The Guardian)

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