Number of women being arrested leaps 50 per cent in a year

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Arrests of women have risen by as much as 50 per cent in some areas after a police crackdown on petty crime. Police are under pressure to give out fewer cautions after then-justice secretary Chris Grayling announced in 2013 that they should by used more sparingly.Arrests of women rose by 46 per cent in Lancashire, 45 per cent in Dorset and 40 per cent in Hertfordshire between 2014-15 and 2015-16. Charity the Prison Reform Trust, which produced the figures, said that the reduced use of cautions meant women who would previously have been issued with an on-the-spot penalty were now being arrested and taken to court.Women are more likely to commit offences which would previously have attracted a caution, such as shoplifting and low-level anti-social behaviour. The use of “out of court disposals”, which include cautions, has fallen from a peak of almost 700,000 in 2007 to 181,900 in the year to September 2016. In 2014 Mr Grayling said the UK had a “cautions culture” and that offenders were being “allowed to get away with the soft option”.He proposed a new system which will mean all offenders have to take action such as apologising to a victim or paying compensation following even the most minor offences.This has been trialled in three police forces and further reform is due to take place. The charity said that arresting women and sending them to prison is more likely to cause harm to their children and does not tackle the most common underlying causes of women’s offending, such as poverty, abusive relationships and addiction. Arrests of women fell in 60 per cent of areas, in part because of schemes providing treatment for conditions like alcoholism and depression. In Greater Manchester the number of women arrested fell from 6,794 to 5,138, a 24 per cent reduction. The charity said that the force’s “gender informed” system to deal with to women offenders, which involved referring them to women’s centres, had reduced reoffending.Jenny Earle, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s programme to reduce women’s imprisonment, said “Most of women’s offending is rooted in financial hardship, abusive relationships, addiction and poor mental health.”For too long the criminal justice system has been used as a safety net to get women’s lives back on track, when what is needed is treatment and support.”last_img

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