Female offending: has there been an increase?



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Release date: 3rd June 2010

New research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that the number of females proceeded against by police increased substantially over the last decade. According to the Director of the Bureau however, much of the increase could be due to tougher law enforcement rather than increased crime.

The number of females proceeded against by police increased by 15 per cent over the 10 years to June 2009. Over the same period, the number of male offenders proceeded against remained stable.

The offences having the largest increases in the number of females proceeded against were breach of bail conditions (up 14% per annum), domestic violence assault (up 12% per annum), liquor offences (up 8% per annum), breach of apprehended violence orders (up 6% per annum), malicious damage to property (up 4% per annum) and offensive behavior (up 3% per annum).

Over the last decade, the number of juvenile female offenders increased by more than a third whereas for juvenile males the increase was less than a tenth. Trends in offending by juvenile females generally mirrored those of all females, with the exception of shoplifting for which there was a significant rise in the number of juvenile female offenders proceeded against but no change for female offenders in general.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the increase in women proceeded against for offending does not necessarily signal an increase in female crime. Increased scrutiny of offenders on bail and increased enforcement of liquor laws are two strategies police commonly employ to help control crime.

"The increase in women proceeded against for domestic violence offences is more likely to reflect increased public willingness to call police and/or tougher law enforcement than an increase in domestic violence."

Consistent with the downward trend in reported property crime since 2001, the Bureau found a decrease in men and women proceeded against for a range of property offences.

The decreases included motor vehicle theft (down 12% per annum for females and 10% for males), steal from dwellings (down 10% per annum for females and 9% for males), fraud (down 9% per annum for females and 7% for males), burglary of non-dwellings (down 9% per annum for females and 8% for males), robbery with a weapon not a firearm (down 8% per annum for females and 7% for males), steal from motor vehicles (down 7% per annum for females and 6% for males) and burglary of dwellings (down 6% per annum for females and 4% for males).

Despite the increase in females proceeded against by police, males continue to commit significantly more offences than their female counterparts.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn, 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408
Copies of the report inpdf