It is equally important that the hon. Lady listens to what I am saying rather than wrapping herself in her brief from the Prison Reform Trust. We have all heard it once but I will repeat it for her benefit. The Ministry of Justice’s own publication, “Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System” says:
“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.”
To suggest that more female first-time offenders are more likely to be sent to prison than men is not the case. The hon. Lady says that a higher proportion of women in prison are first-time offenders, but that is because they are less likely to be sent to prison unless they commit particularly serious offences and leave the courts no option but to send them to prison. It is a complete distortion of the facts, and the Ministry of Justice publication makes that perfectly clear.