No, they are not. For the benefit of the hon. Lady, I have every single category of offence. I have figures for the likelihood of men and women being sent to prison for exactly the same offence. What she is saying is simply not the case.
The Home Office undertook statistical research some years ago to try to ascertain the best comparison for similar situations. Home Office Research Study 170, “Understanding the sentencing of women”, edited by Carol Hedderman and Loraine Gelsthorpe, looked at 13,000 cases and concluded:
“Women shoplifters were less likely than comparable males to receive a prison sentence...among repeat offenders women were less likely to receive a custodial sentence. Women first offenders were significantly less likely than equivalent men to receive a prison sentence for a drug offence”.
The Ministry of Justice publication I mentioned earlier also covers the issue of pre-sentence reports and their recommendations for sentences in the courts. It says:
“In 2009, a lower proportion of women who had a pre-sentence report that recommended immediate custody went on to receive this sentence than men (83% compared with 90% for males). For all other sentence options recommended in pre-sentence reports (Suspended Sentence Order, all community sentences or fines), a higher proportion of males received custodial sentences than females.”
Even probation officers, and we all know how soft on sentencing they are, recommend a higher number of custodial sentences than are actually given, and women again are on the receiving end of that particular benefit.