The number of crimes committed by girls has risen by a quarter in three years, figures revealed today.
The news comes in the Youth Justice Board's Annual Workload Data report.
It shows that girls committed 59,236 crimes in 2006/07, up 25 per cent from 47,358 in 2003/04.
This compares to a 2 per cent drop in crimes committed by boys over the same period, although young men still commit the majority of crimes.
Academic Elaine Arnull of London's South Bank University, who prepared a report on the issue for the Youth Justice Board, suggested that the increase in girls offending may be due to changes in the way society deals with violence.
Most of the violent offences recorded were minor fights between girls, sometimes in school playgrounds, and it might be better if they were not dealt with by the youth justice system at all, she said.
Dr Arnull told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is not just that girls are going out and committing more offences. The population of girls has increased, so you would expect to see more offences.
"Also, we think that the response to girls by agencies - schools, police, other people - has changed, so girls are possibly being prosecuted for offences they weren't being prosecuted for before.
"It is fights between girls, principally - things like fights at school that the police weren't called to in the past. Most offending by girls, especially violent offending, is of a very low level. It doesn't mean it's insignificant, but it is hair-pulling fights between girls.
"Certainly we think that it would be better for it to be dealt with outside the youth justice system. It is important to stay calm about the figures.
"The bigger picture is that behaviour is changing and there is a link between girls using alcohol and violence - there is a change in behaviour, but it is not the dramatic change the figures might suggest."Reuse content