Only 3.9% Prison Population FEMALE

For two decades since 2001, the percentage of female prison population has consistently fallen from a 'high' watermark of 5.8% in 2002,

Rapid risk-assessment & releases at the point of COVID lock down (23 March 2020) suggests the proportion of female prisoners judged

to be low risk for release was HIGHER than the proportion of male prisoners.

MOJ FACT 2021: Female Prison Population at an all-time LOW of 3.9% of the total prison population

Context of Female Prison Population is ALL

Statistically accurate statements you can make: "Statistics for England & Wales, contained in UK MOJ OMS-Q 2002-20 (released on 29 Jan 2021) show..."

  • the percentage of female prison population has decreased to 3.9%, an all-time LOW ie 96.1% of prison population is MALE

  • this percentage has decreased consistently for two decades, from highest of a still very small 5.8% in 2002

  • the female prison population was never greater than 6% at any time in the seventy years from 1950-2020

See full table of prison population numbers with percentages below.

Source: UK MOJ Offender Management Statistics (OMS-Q) 29 Jan 2021

International Comparisons

Sources: World Prison Population Edition XII (Sept 2018)

Australia Bureau of Statistics - Prison Population at 30 June 2020 (Released: 3 Dec 2020)

Female Prisons - Debtors Jails of Victorian era echoes of Journal of Elizabeth Fry?

Not only is most crime that results in imprisonment committed by male offenders (as illustrated, 96% of the prison population is male), the type of offences committed by female and male offender differs significantly, with male offending tending to the violent and dangerous, while female offending tends to be economic in character ie offences of poverty.[i] Many people are surprised to discover that despite an a slightly higher than 50% female population of England & Wales of 29.9 million (30 June 2018) population, less than 5% of the total prison population is female.

BBC Radio 4 programme June/July 2021: featured a former male prisoner who said to the effect "The stereotypes of MALE prisoners are only half true" ie scary and violent. He was suggesting depression and vulnerability as the other half. Clare B Dimyon served three brief sentences in HMP Holloway in 1984-5 for offences associated with Greenham Common and can confirm that her stereotypes of dangerous, scary violent female inmates, were shattered on her first night in HMP Holloway.

"The vulnerability of female prisoners lives with me to this day. 19 July 1984 in HMP Holloway was the first night, I felt completely safe after a life-threatening assault in which I was raped... in which... I taught a man consent while he was raping me. I have been supportive of male transwomen and can date that to 1979/80 BBC2 TV programme about Julia Grant and have actively advocated for transwomen and transmen since at least 2008. With more knowledge of being an inmate in prison, I would be terrified, even if the individual was no objective threat but due to female specific rape trauma, which is positively phobic about proximity to male genitalia regardless of the individual on the end of them."

[i] Daily Mail (17 Jan 2017) Women ten times more likely to be convicted for not paying a TV licence than men

[ii] Independent (28 Nov 2020) More women than men are jailed for unpaid TV licences

Conclusion: In England & Wales, as in most jurisdictions in the world, the female prison population is a fraction of the male prison population. There is a stark difference in female criminality and male criminality, both in frequency of offenders and offending but also in the type of criminal offences. The male incidence of criminal offending of 96% of the total, is predominantly violent crime, involving direct harm to a person, whereas the female incidence of criminal offending of 3.9% is predominantly economic offences, not crimes against the person. eg Non-Payment of TV Licence. Another way of saying this is "the incidence of offender in the female population is far lower than the incidence of male offenders in the male population."

Statistical caution: Accurate statistical statements are pedantic for the sake of precision, in order to prevent them falling into the category of "lies, damn lies and very poor statistics".

© 2021 Clare B Dimyon MBE [L-G-B-T] Analytical Engineer in the Aerospace Industry

© 2021 Clare B Dimyon MBE [L-G-B-T] Analytical Engineer in the Aerospace Industry