Judges have been told to deal less severely with female criminals than men when determining how to sentence them.
By Nick Collins
Published: 10:30AM BST 11 Sep 2010
Female criminals are more likely to have mental health or educational difficulties and to have parenting responsibilities, while a lower proportion will have committed violent crimes than men, according to new guidelines.
Judges ought to "bear these matters in mind" when passing sentence, according to the Equal Treatment Bench Book, published by the Judicial Studies Board (JSB).
The body, which is responsible for training judges, said female victims, witnesses and criminals have a very different experience in court than male counterparts.
It said: "These differences highlight the importance of the need for sentencers to bear these matters in mind when sentencing."
Quoting Supreme Court judge Baroness Hale, it added: "It is now well recognised that a misplaced conception of equality has resulted in some very unequal treatment for women and girls."
Dame Laura Cox, a high court judge who led the team writing the rules, wrote: "It is hardly revolutionary that judges should know of the matters central to the lives of those who attend courts and to aim to provide judges with that knowledge."