Despite all the evidence that I’ve gathered and used over the years in debates and in the media, there are still people who witter on about the need to treat female offenders more leniently than male offenders.
Today in Parliament, we have the second reading of the Prisons and Courts Bill.
The Secretary of State for Justice [Liz Truss] said last month:
“Early intervention by our courts is vitally important in stopping women offenders from ending up in prison. We will be announcing our strategy for women later this year and have already announced a new director for women in custody and the community.”
I don’t think it is a strategy for stopping women offenders ending up in prison that’s needed. Never mind all the evidence that shows this – just look at these recent actual cases.
In a Crown Court last year a woman was given a two-year suspended prison sentence for blackmailing a doctor. She had previous convictions – including for battery. The judge will have warned her that while she was not going to prison that day she would have to comply with the order and not re-offend in the next two years, otherwise she would be sent to prison.
Fast forward a year and the same woman is back in court over a road rage offence. She apparently drove her car at a motorcyclist after they exchanged words. He broke three bones in his wrist, dislocated his shoulder and the court was also made aware that he had lost his job as a result of the incident.
You might have thought it safe to assume that she was sent to prison after this, but she wasn’t. Unbelievably, the judge decided that she should have another suspended sentence on top of the other suspended sentence – this time for one year.
How on earth is this justifiable? Well, the judge is reported to have said:
“Everyone can see this driving was appalling. You could have killed him or yourself.
Your driving was utterly dreadful, very, very dangerous and frightening. The fact is you deserve to go to prison for this driving and the breach of your suspended sentence. However, I have a duty to be fair to the people in your care. You have a child to look after.”
She will never go to prison on that basis! Where was her child when she was driving like a lunatic while on a suspended prison sentence?
This comes hot on the heels of the reports of a Polish woman who admitted three counts of assaulting a police officer, three of racially aggravated public order offences, one count of assaulting an accredited person and one count of common assault. In this case the District Judge is reported to have said: “I’m not going to send a lady to prison for something like this.”
I don’t think a “lady” would have used the profanities hurled at the victims of this attack, nor assaulted the police officers!
Earlier this year it was reported that another Crown Court judge had said: “I hate sending to prison women who have not been to prison before and who have been convicted for the first time of a criminal offence.”
Unfortunately these are not extreme examples. According to official Ministry of Justice statistics, for every category of offence a man is more likely to be sent to prison than a woman. I know this is what some people actually want – but surely not those who believe in fairness, equality and living in a civilised country.
So where are the feminists campaigning for women to be treated equally to men by the courts? They are all conspicuous by their absence. As I have said before, it seems that they believe in equality – but only when it suits them.
- Philip Davies is MP for Shipley