15/05/2008

Crimes Committed By Girls Up 25%, Report Reveals

New figures reveal that crimes committed by young women have risen significantly in the past three years.

The Youth Justice Board's (YJB) Annual Workload Data report, released today, reveals that the number of offences committed by young females rose by 25% - an increase of 11,878.

According to the figures nearly 1,000 girls were convicted of drug crimes, nearly 1,500 of motoring offences and 5,964 of public order crimes.

The report also revealed that the number of offences resulting in a disposal (sentences and pre-court decisions made by police) from 2006-2007 by children and young people aged between 10-17 years of age rose by 2.5% - an increase of 7,246.

The report stated that most youth offending in England and Wales is committed by young men, "the majority of whom are White and aged between 15 and 17 years of age". The most common offences are "theft and handling, violence against the person, criminal damage and motoring offences".

Over the last four years, there has been an 85% increase in the use of electronic tagging on young people who offend, which suggests that courts and magistrates are increasingly confident that this form of surveillence works.

Doctor Elaine Arnull of London's South Bank University has suggested that the increase in girls offending could be "due to the way society deals with violence".

Dr Arnull told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "the population of girls has increased, so you would expect to see more offences" but that girls were "possibly being prosecuted for offences they weren't being prosecuted for before.

She added that although there is a "change in behaviour" it is "not as dramatic as the figures might suggest".

The YJB has said that it plans to research into why there has been a marked increase in crimes committed by young women although young males are still responsible for 80% of the offences committed by young people.

The YJB oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales. It works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.

(DS)

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