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Crime: Gender Balance

Volume 688: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 November (WA 197), whether their research into the causes of crime suggests that the disparity of 2:1 in the propensity of males and females to commit crime arises either from social or from biological factors. [HL800]

Home Office research into the causes of crime has not included any exploration of the potential role of biological factors in the increased propensity shown by men or women to commit crime.

Research summarised in The Impact of Corrections on Re-offending: A Review of What Works (HORS 291, 2006) discusses a range of factors, or “criminogenic needs”, predictive of offending in relation to the differences between men and women in the frequency and nature of offending. Evidence suggests that female offenders have higher levels of need in the areas of relationships and emotional well-being, while male offenders had higher levels of need with regard to offending, alcohol misuse, thinking and behaviour and attitudes.

Self-report offending studies have consistently shown that men are more likely to commit offences than women although the gender gap varies according to type of offence. The existing research does not show that the gap is caused solely by social factors or solely by biological factors.

The Home Office has recently published Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System which provides further details of the nature of offending carried out by women (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/s95women0405.pdf).