Crime: Women behaving increasingly badly

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Women criminals are becoming increasingly violent and behaving more like aggressive males, according to new research. Experts believe the damaging effects of domestic violence and childhood abuse could be partly to blame.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist, Dr Phil Huckle, of the Caswell Clinic at Bridgend, Mid-Glamorgan, studied the case histories of nearly 300 women over the past seven years. Although the proportion convicted for violence remained relatively constant, the level of violence they used was increasingly vicious.

Presenting his findings to a Royal College of Psychiatrists' conference in Cardiff, Dr Huckle said women were now more prepared to carry out acts of violence. "The causes of violent behaviour and offending seem to include both psychiatric illness and previous experience of personal violence with the family of origin, which is often repeated in other relationships."