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Increasing Female Crime - Tash Strangwood & Claire Tunaley

Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which are produced and finalised by governing authority and when these laws are broken it can ultimately prescribe a conviction. Crime has always been considered to be a mainly male activity but evidence shows a recent sharp increase in female crime.


Sociologists such as Mac an Ghaill believe that men of the 21st century are going through a ‘crisis of masculinity’ relating to who they are and what they are essentially needed for. But what about women?  their roles are increasingly changing and confusion can be caused between the male and female roles and many believe that this is the cause of the increase of female crime.


Post-modernists such as Lyotard state  that the identity and roles of women in society are changing; they are becoming increasingly independent and self reliant, and some changing their identities even more as the carefree troublemaking opposites that are males. The new identity of ‘Ladette’, sociologists believe are becoming the route of the increasing numbers of females committing and being convicted of crimes. A Ladette is a young woman who behaves in a manner similar to a young man, namely being boisterous and loud and drinking to excess, and it has been said that it is the excessive drinking and the new manor and aggressive behavior that is leading the committing crimes. An example of this is the case of Paris Hayes who is 17 years-old who began excessively drinking at the age of 14, her drinking lead to her expulsion at school and was constantly stopped by police for anti-social behavior.


In 2009 10 ‘Ladettes’ were detained in police custody every hour for some form of violent crime, this was an all time record in police accounts. 88,139 women were arrested for violence over the course of 12 months; this is nearly 250 women arrested per day, resulting in a massive increase of nearly 1000 than a year earlier, whereas astonishingly the number of men arrested fell by 10,000. 2009 is the second straight year that women are more likely to commit a violent crime that any other offence.



The increase in female crime has spurred the growth of educational programs geared towards understanding.  A masters in criminal justice has become one of the most popular degrees for understanding criminal motives.


The increase in the rate at which women are going to prison has outpaced that of men. Since 1981, the number of men being put behind bars has gone up 112 percent; the number of women, 202 percent. This corresponds neatly with the upward trend in arrest rates; the rate of increase for women is now nearly double that for men.  Rita Simon, a sociologist at American University in Washington and author of two books on women and crime says


"Part of it is that just as women have more opportunities outside the home, they have more opportunities to fall into crime. And it's also true that in the past, judges tended to be more lenient with women, especially when they had children. But now justice is becoming more gender-blind."


However in certain cases, such as domestic violence in a relationship, it would seem that justice and the law system are still more gender –blind when it comes to the men becoming the victims of the abuse in a relationship. Very little is known about the actual number of men who are in a domestic relationship which they are abused or treated violently by their female partners. In 100 domestic violence situations, an estimate of 40 cases involves violence by women against men. An estimate of 400,000 women per year are abused by their husband/long term partners, this means that roughly 300,000 are violently treated by their wives or girlfriends.

There can be many reasons why women fall into the behaviors of violence to others, but there seems to be 3 main categories:


1) Alcohol Abuse:  Alcohol abuse is a major cause and a trigger of domestic violence in a relationship. Women, as they naturally have a smaller frame and a smaller alcoholic intake become intoxicated quicker and therefore have less impulse control, are easily frustrated, have greater misunderstandings and generally relate to violence as a solution to difficult problems, 94% of women who abuse their partners are alcoholics.

2) Psychological Disorders: There are certain psychological problems, primarily personality disorders, in which cause women to have abusive and violent characteristics towards men. A diagnosis which is regularly found in women is; Borderline Personality Disorder, which is a personality disorder defined in DSM-IV and described as a prolonged disturbance of personality function in a person, generally over the age of eighteen years, although it is also found in adolescents, characterized by depth and variability of moods. At least 50% of all domestic abuse and violence against men are associated with women that suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. The disorder also associates with suicidal behavior, severe mood swings, lying, sexual problems and alcohol abuse.


3) Unrealistic Expectations, Assumptions and Conclusions. Women who are abusive towards their partners usually have very unrealistic expectations and make unrealistic demands. The women that do this would have typically experienced numerous episodes of depression, anxiety, frustration and irritability which they associate with their partner’s behavior. Many women who resort to violence often associate and blame their behavior on a certain traumatic event or a result of their own insecurities or sometimes even a withdrawal from alcohol. Thus they blame men for their problems and panics and miserable lifestyle, rather than admitting the problem and trying to sort it. Instead of helping themselves they blame a man for how they feel and this is where they lash out violently to make them feel better about their own situation.


Domestic violence against men is a taboo subject that is rarely aired in public because often men are too ashamed to admit that it’s happening or they lack proof that the attacks have taken place. Victims of domestic violence often lose freedom to live their lives how they want and without fear. A thorough support system exists for female victims of domestic violence however male victims often feel isolated and embarrassed due to the lack of social support.


The Sociologist Ralph A. Weisheit conducted a study relating to the key issues and perspectives of women and crime. The key issue raised seem to orientate towards societies interpretations of changing in the feminine sex role, and the impact that this has on the behaviour of females. Weisheit’s study concluded that females have been given more independence in society, as they are no longer reliant on males. Many also feel that this has also given females more leniency when it comes to the law (chivalry factor) and that males are more likely to be prosecuted for the same crime that a women commits, whereas she is more likely to walk free of charge.


The number of females committing crimes is constantly increasing. The number of crimes committed by women in England and Wales has risen by 25% in three years according to official statistics. The Youth Justice Board says girls committed 59,000 offences in 2006-07 up 12,000 in comparison to 2003-4. However this shows an increase but it is still far less crime than committed by boys.


The increases are predominantly in minor assaults such as robberies, public order offences and criminal damage. Overall the statistics show, there has been a 2% reduction in crimes committed by boys over the same period. The latest figures on offences resulting in a police warning or court sanction confirm a continuing long-term trend of increasing criminality among girls.


 The board, which is responsible for overseeing juvenile offenders in England and Wales, says it has now commissioned a study to work out if there are any specific factors to blame for the rise in crime from girls and what can be done to tackle offending. Its initial findings suggest the increase is partly down to a rise in the total number of girls of that age, coupled with the police being more willing to take action against girls accused of less serious crimes such as school fights.


There may also be a link between female violent crimes and the rise in teenage alcohol consumption. This has increased due to the term described by sociologists as the ‘Ladette’ culture. Women are more likely in the modern times to join the males in drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and acting in a more masculine way. This results in women gaining more confidence when under the influence of alcohol and they feel more superior than anyone else, which leads them to committing violent crimes whilst out in public. For example, fighting.


To learn more about crime and the law surrounding it, consider a masters in criminal justice at a university to receive high quality educational guidance."




Crime committed by females is on the increase rapidly and it’s due to many of reasons but mainly about the introduction of the ‘Ladette’ culture in the post modern world. Even though this is increasing, males will always take the lead in violent crime offences. Female crime isn’t looked upon in as much detail or taken as seriously as male crime because it’s less likely to occur. However, when highly serious crimes are committed by females such as murder, then it is taken as much more of a surprise as if it was committed by a male. This is mainly down to the sex role theory of how each gender is primarily socialised in different ways and the continued different social expectations of males and females.



claire tash

Tash Strangwood is a Sociology student at Sussex Downs college

Claire Tunaley is a Sociology student at Sussex Downs college

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