It does not mean that at all. The figures that the hon. Lady quotes, which groups are fond of quoting, show the exact opposite of what they think the figures show. They show that women are treated more favourably by the courts. If she will let me continue with the speech, it will become evident to her, I hope. If she still has queries towards the end, and if the figures do not make sense, I will happily give way to her again. I am sure that the figures will make perfect sense, even to the hon. Lady. I will continue with the quote from the Library:
“In 2009 58% of male offenders who entered a guilty plea for an indictable offence were given an immediate custodial sentence compared to 34% of women. For each offence group a higher proportion of males pleading guilty were sentenced to immediate custody than females.”
The Ministry of Justice’s publication, “Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System”, published in November 2010—it is produced to ensure there is no sex discrimination in the system—states:
“Of sentenced first-time offenders (7,320 females and 25,936 males), a greater percentage of males were sentenced to immediate custody than females (29% compared with 17%), which has been the case in each year since 2005.”
People have had a briefing from the Prison Reform Trust, which tries to persuade them that women with no previous convictions are more likely to be sent to prison than men, but that is categorically not the case, as the Ministry of Justice’s own publication makes abundantly clear.