Media Release: Trends in female arrests

Full report - NSW Police Recorded Female Persons of Interest: Has there been an increase in the 10 years to June 2013? (pdf 908Kb)

Release date: Friday 30 May, 2014 Embargo: 10.30am

The number of females arrested and charged by NSW Police (hereafter referred to as 'female POIs' (persons of interest)) is rising faster than the corresponding number of male POIs, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau examined trends in the number of female POIs from 2003/04 to 2012/13. Over this period, the number of adult female POIs increased by an average of 2.5 per cent per year, compared with 1.7 per cent per year for adult males POIs.

The proportion of offences committed by adult female POIs has also increased over this period, from 17.3 per cent in 2003/04 to 18.3 per cent in 2012/13.

The most common offences police proceeded against adult female POIs for are shoplifting (16.3%), domestic assault (9.2%) and non-domestic assault (6.4%).

The largest increases in adult female POIs occurred in the categories of:

  • possession and use of ecstasy (up 21.4% per annum)
  • possession and use of other drugs (up 17.1% per annum)
  • harassment, threatening behaviour and private nuisance (up 14.0% per annum)
  • dealing and trafficking in amphetamines (up 13.4% per annum); and
  • possession and use of amphetamines (up 10.6% per annum).

Unlike adult female POIs, the number of juvenile female POIs has not generally increased over the past decade. Instead they rose, stabilised, and then fell, with the result that, by 2012/13, the number of juvenile female POIs was only slightly higher than in 2003/04.

The same pattern is true of juvenile males, however the number of juvenile male POIs in 2012/13 were actually lower than in 2003/04. Thus, males have shown a greater decrease in juvenile POIs than females.

The proportion of juvenile POIs who were female increased relative to males (from 19.8% of juvenile POIs in 2003/04 to 22.7% in 2012/13) due to the larger falls in male POIs.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the increase in female arrests does not necessarily indicate an increase in female offending.

"The jump in arrests for ecstasy or amphetamine offences is probably the result of a change in policing policy or practice. Monitoring by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre shows no increase in female use of these drugs over the last few years.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 02 9231 9190

Copies of the report: