• Post category:Dodgy Statistics
  • Reading time:4 mins read

By escalating, you mean falling, right?

Apparently violence by teenage girls is out of control in England and Wales – except it isn’t.

The Daily Mail is having one of its periodic rages about how teenage girls are drunken violent monsters with a little moralising help from Civitas’ crime researcher/communications manager.

Nick Cowen, a crime researcher at Civitas, said: ‘The number of female offences seems relatively stable but those offences are increasingly more likely to be violent.

‘The core reason is family breakdown which might expose women disproportionately to various kinds of abuse in their young lives and might make them much more likely to become violent offenders subsequently.’

Civitas argument is based on Ministry of Justice figures that show that in 2009, 34.4 per cent of female juvenile first-time offenders received sentences for violence against the person overtaking theft and handling stolen goods offences (26.4 per cent) as the most common first time offence, whereas up until 2007 it had always been the other way around.

What the statistics show (Sentencing Statistics supplementary tables, table 6g) is that the ratio has changed mainly because while theft and handling offences by juvenile first-time offenders have fallen 56% in 10 years, violence against the person offences have fallen by just 21% in the same period.

We should clearly be worried about this – girls are not committing less violent crime at the same rate at which they are not committing other crimes!

The main reason I went ‘hang on, these figures are rubbish’, is because I know the Youth Justice Board stats (found here) well as I’ve been trying to get some explanations on a couple of things the Wales statistics throw up for about three weeks.

In the case of this article, it’s very much the case of pick the years that give you the biggest percentage difference you’re looking for – with violence offences committed by female juveniles apparently having soared by 28 per cent from 8,702 in 2002/3 to 11,155 in 2009/10.

In this case, 2002/03 was an eight year low, but contrary to what the article would like you to believe 2009/10 was not the high, that would be 2006/07 when violent offences by girls hit 15,672 and then fell 29% to today’s relatively low figure.

The article does manage a quick nod to the idea that teenage girls may not be single-handedly turning UK cities into no go areas but its heart clearly isn’t in it.

There has also been an increase in violence among males aged under 17 but it is not as pronounced.

From the first-time offender figures, violence among males aged under 17 is almost doing what the article is trying to suggest is the case with girls, the percentage is rising becasue the number of violent offences isn’t falling (sticking around the 1,200 mark) while the overall number of offences is falling.

Though according to the Youth Justice Board, violent offences by males aged under 18 is falling too, as is almost all crime committed by young people, though worryingly, not sexual offences by boys, which has stayed pretty much the same since 2004/05.

But apparently the ‘fact’ that teenage girls are terrorising city centres with their unnatural drunken violence (with case studies!) instead of staying home and learning to cook while dreaming of their future husband is a much better story.

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