Written Question on Prison Sentences: Females

Written Questions are submitted by MPs or Lords to receive information from a Department.

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Date Title Questioner
8 May 2019, 3:49 p.m. Prison Sentences: Females David Hanson


To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many women with no previous convictions were sent to immediate custody from the (a) the Crown Court and (b) Magistrates' Courts for sentences of (i) below 6 months and (ii) 6 months and above in each police force area in England and Wales in 2018-19; and what the offence classification was in each of those cases.

Answer (Edward Argar)

The number of female offenders sentenced to custody by court level and police force area, including North Wales, in 2017, can be found in the Court outcomes by Police Force Area data tool, which can be found at the below link:-


Select the drop down boxes referring to custodial sentence length in order to establish sentence lengths. Select female from the sex drop box and, once having done this, young adults and adults to establish women. Offence classification can be found in both the Offence Type and Offence group boxes, depending on which specific definition applies here.

The number of female offenders with no previous convictions sentenced to immediate custody by court type, sentence length, and offence type in England and Wales in 2017 can be found in the attached table.

Court proceedings data for 2018 are planned for publication on 16 May 2019, with data for 2019 planned for publication in May 2020.

Our vision, as set out in our Female Offender Strategy, is to see fewer women coming into the criminal justice system and a greater proportion managed successfully in the community.

There is persuasive evidence showing community sentences, in certain circumstances, are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending. The MoJ study ‘The impact of short custodial sentences, community orders and suspended sentence orders on re-offending’ published in 2015 involved around 350,000 sentencing occasions over 4 years and used 130 different variables to construct matched groups of offenders and examine the effect of short sentences relative to community sentences. This study found a reduction of around 3 percentage points in proven reoffences if offenders receiving sentences of less than 12 months were to get a community order instead. This is statistically significant and equates to around 30,000 proven reoffences in total over a one-year period. This means fewer victims of crime.

Unless we tackle the underlying causes of offending, we cannot protect the public from being victims of crime. Effective community orders can address offenders’ behaviour, answer their mental health and alcohol or drug misuse needs, and provide reparation for the benefit of the wider community.

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