Record numbers of women held for violent crimes

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The Independent Online

Record numbers of women are being arrested for violent crimes, it was revealed today.

Annual criminal justice statistics showed 88,139 women were arrested for violent offences in a single year - or nearly 250 every day.

That is an increase of nearly 1,000 on a year earlier. At the same time the number of men arrested for violent crimes fell by 10,000.

The rise in arrests means that for the second consecutive year women were more likely to be held for crimes of violence than for any other offence.

It overtook shoplifting for the first time in 2005/6. Today's figures, published by the Ministry of Justice and covering 2007/8, showed arrests of women for theft continued to fall, by nearly 3,000 to 77,425.

Violence against the person - a category which includes manslaughter, assault and grievous bodily harm - accounted for 35% of all crimes committed by women.

Since 2002, the number of women arrested for violent crimes has more than doubled. At the turn of the century the figure was 37,100.

For all offences, a quarter of arrests were of girls aged between 10 and 17, while a fifth of all arrested men were in that age group.

More than 250,000 women were arrested for all crimes in 2007/8, compared to more than 1.2 million men.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said the figures were "deeply disturbing".

"That an increasing number of women are resorting to crime, including fraud, drugs and violence, is a damning indictment on this Government's failure to get to grips with a range of social problems - from drug abuse to family breakdown."

Separate figures published today showed around one in four of the most serious crimes reported to the police are solved.

A total of 4,702,500 so-called indictable offences - which can lead to a Crown Court trial - were reported in England and Wales in 2008. Of those, police marked 1,335,800 as detected or solved.

But of those only half resulted in criminal charges. A quarter, or 319,300 led to police cautions, while 108,400 - 8% - led to penalty notices.

As thousands of cases are dropped by prosecutors or otherwise not proceeded with, 315,900 criminals actually reached the sentencing stage.

A third of those, some 102,800 defendants, were given community sentences, and 48,100 fined. A total of 79,100 were sent to prison.