The Ministry of Justice has just published a set of stats which look at female offenders who have what they call ‘dependents’, or what most of us call, children.

The government says this data has been released because there appears to be a rising interest in this area, and we are delighted to hear it. Invaluable research and ground breaking projects like the ones Tracey McMahon is working on over at SHE will no doubt be contributing to this push for more information about this group of women and their children, and how best to support them.

These are the vital stats you need to know:

  • Between 24% and 31% of all female offenders were estimated to have one or
    more child dependents.
  • In comparison, the 2011 census showed that 36% of households with a
    female adult had dependent children.
  • On average, those with child dependents had 1.9 children.
  • Office for National Statistics figures show that the average number of
    dependent children per family in 2012 was 1.7.
  • Female offenders aged 25 to 44 were most likely to have child dependents.
  • Among the different disposal types, women receiving immediate custody were
    significantly less likely to have child dependents (between 13% and 19%)

The vast majority of offences committed by mothers are summary ones (minor offences which can include burglary and drugs), closely followed by theft and handling of stolen goods – a clear indicator, we feel, that these women are not stealing for ‘fun’ but out of desperation. The recession and relentless cutbacks to benefits and services are more than likely contributing to this phenomenon.

The report is well worth a read.