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New Report By The Fawcett Society

17 May 2009

Criminal justice system 'institutionally sexist' finds new report by The Fawcett Society.

A new report published by the Fawcett Society’s Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System the report places institutional sexism firmly on the agenda.

Engendering Justice - from policy to practice. May 09
Final report of the Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System. May 09
 pdf (1,715.89kb)

Engendering Justice: executive summary
Executive summary of Engendering Justice - from policy to practice. May 09
 pdf (124.10kb)
The report finds that there has been no consistent progress over five years in promoting women into senior positions and women victims and offenders continue to be marginalised in a justice system designed for men.  Institutional sexism is apparent even in the day-to-day operation of criminal justice agencies.  Commenting on the report, Baroness Jean Corston, Chair of Fawcett’s Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System, said “Evidence collected by the Commission has demonstrated that throughout the criminal justice system female offenders, female victims of crime and women workers continue to face discrimination in a system designed for men by men.”
The report reveals that although there has been some progress since the Commission began its work in 2003, a gap remains between policy and implementation. The failure to target institutional sexism has resulted in a system which:

  • Does not address the causes of women’s offending with the result that too many women continue to be imprisoned on short sentences for non-violent crime;
  • Fails to provide female victims of violence with support, safety and justice; and
  • Creates a glass ceiling for women working within the system so that higher positions across the sector remain male dominated.

The report outlines a vision for a future criminal justice system which reflects the skills, needs and experiences of women and sets out key targets to be achieved by 2020. 
Key Statistics:

  • An estimated 3 million women across the UK experience rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, trafficking, or other forms of violence each year.
  • Only 15 percent of serious sexual offences against adults are reported to the police and of the rape offences that are reported only 6.5 percent result in conviction. 
  • One in four people still believe that a woman is partially responsible for being raped if she is drunk and one in three think she is partially responsible if she flirted heavily with the man beforehand.
  • Over a quarter of local authorities across Britain have no specialised VAW support services.

Female Offenders:

  • On 3 April 2009, the female prison population stood at 4,309 compared to a mid-year female prison population of 2,672 in 1997. Population projections released by the Ministry of Justice in January, indicate at best the female prison population may decrease by 200 by 2015, at worst it will increase to 5,100.
  • Prison does not address the causes of women’s offending. More than one in three have histories of sexual abuse and over half have been the victims of domestic abuse.