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Women 'failing to get top law jobs'

Women are failing to rise to the top in jobs across the criminal justice system despite growing numbers training as barristers and police officers, according to a report published today.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, looked at women's experiences in the police, judiciary, legal profession, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service and probation service.

It found that women accounted for one of the 12 law lords, five out of 43 chief constables, and 18 out of 42 chief probation officers. Just seven out of 42 chief crown prosecutors and 31 of the 138 top prison governors are women.

The report says that only 7 per cent of High Court judges are women despite the fact that59 per cent of law graduates are female.

Vera Baird QC, Labour MP for Redcar and chairwoman of a commission set up by the society, said that the lack of senior women in the criminal justice system was a threat to its credibility and legitimacy.

She called on the sector to examine its practices and procedures, and proposed a comprehensive equal-pay review. The commission's full report is to be launched at the end of this month.