5 in 6 Men? A Response to Ally Fogg

Prison Population by Gender

Figure 1: Prison population in England and Wales

[Added May 2016: An update on these issues can be found here]

Ally Fogg has recently published a criticism of my blog piece UK Prisoners – The Genders Compared. I respond to his comments here. In my article I claimed that, if men were treated like women in the UK criminal justice system, then 5 out of every 6 men in prison would not be there.

Let me make one thing clear: I have no intention of dying in a ditch to defend the 5-in-6 estimate. I would not, as Mr Fogg asserts, be embarrassed to be proved wrong. I am not a feminist or a politician that I cannot admit error, if such be the case. I would, in fact, be happy to be proved wrong. The salient word here is “proved”. I would be happy to be proved wrong because it would mean that someone had examined this matter with more rigour than I have been able to do – in which case our knowledge and understanding would be advanced. This is the scientific mentality. That said, I will address each of Ally Fogg’s points.

I shall make use of two Ministry of Justice documents in particular: Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2011 and Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2013, henceforth referred to as Refs.1 and 2 respectively.

Firstly let me summarise my case. I observe that, for people convicted, men are given a custodial sentence 3.4 times more frequently than women, and, moreover, their sentence is, on average, a factor 1.64 times that of women. A statement along these lines will not be contentious, I hope. In fact, these numbers are probably worse. For example, Ref.2 Figure 5.01 gives the custody rate for men and women to be 10.3% and 2.5% respectively, a disparity factor of 4.1, larger than my estimate of 3.4. It also gives the average custodial sentences as 16.2 and 8.9 months respectively, making men’s sentences a factor 1.82 times that of women, again larger than my estimated 1.64. These disparity factors explain why there are more than 20 times as many men in prison as women, despite the fact that only slightly more than 3 times as many men are convicted of crimes per year. As I say, these observations should not be contentious.

The issue, though, is whether this disparity between the genders is just, i.e., whether there are good reasons for men receiving harsher sentences, or whether it is simply gender bias. It is perfectly possible, in principle, that the disparity could be just. For example, if a far larger proportion of men committed heinous crimes, such as severe violence, whilst most women’s crimes were minor offenses like petty shoplifting, then it could be that men were simply getting their just deserts. I attempted to address this question by breaking down both the above factors into the different categories of crime. The outcome was, I claimed, that broadly similar factors are found in virtually all crime categories. On this basis I concluded that the disparities were gender bias since, if a man and a woman commit a crime in the same category, the man can expect to be treated more harshly to a degree reflected, on average, by these disparity factors.

I now address Mr Fogg’s points, which will be quoted in italics.

(A) huge problem with Collin’s analysis is that he doesn’t allow for the fact that men and women tend to be prosecuted for different types of crime.

As explained above, I have specifically addressed the issue of different crime categories. Mr Fogg asserts that men tend to commit more heinous crimes (as a proportion) than women. I have two responses to this: the first is that it is not true (I address the sexual assault issue below), and the second is that it would not matter anyway since broadly similar disparity factors apply across all crime categories. In my blog post I took the simpler course of appealing to the latter argument, thus avoiding a discussion of the relative frequency between the genders of the different categories of crime.

However, the blog post was actually a précis of a more detailed analysis here. In that original I also attempted an analysis of the proportions of the prison population convicted for the various crime categories, comparing the genders  (see Fig.4.3 on page 42). It was only crudely done, but my tentative conclusion was that the similarity of the offense ‘spectrum’ between the genders was more striking than the differences. This further encouraged me not to concentrate on this aspect.

I can now add to the evidence underwriting this view. Ref.1 Figure 4.02, reproduced as Figure 2 below, shows the proportions of males and females sentenced (i.e., convicted) in various crime categories. I suggest the similarities are indeed more striking than the differences (note the similarity in the ‘violence against the person’ category).

Contrary to Mr Fogg’s assertion, a very similar pattern of offending between the sexes is again displayed by Ref.2 Fig. 4.02 which shows the proportions of males and females arrested in the various crime categories. (Note that such people were not necessarily tried in court, and, if so, were not necessarily found guilty). Again the spectrum of offending is strikingly similar between the sexes, including in the category ‘violence against the person’.

Figure 2: From Ref.1 (2011)


Figure 3: From Ref.2 (2013)


I wonder how many people know that the most common reason for a woman to be arrested is for violence?

Or that, combining violence and sexual offences, the proportion of men and women arrested is essentially the same (34.4% and 34.9%, ref.2 Table 3.03).

Of course, these Figures are percentages of the totals for each sex, not absolute numbers. The ratio of females to males “proceeded against” is the same as the ratio of convictions, namely 25% to 75% (Ref.2 Figure 5.01). Consequently, the rough equality in the proportion of men and women arrested or convicted for violence+sexual offences implies that there is one women convicted of these offences for every three men.

The first point (William Collins) misses is that the single biggest influence on whether a defendant is sent to prison (and for how long) is not their gender, or even the category of offence, but their offending history. Someone with 15 or more previous convictions is nearly five times as likely to receive a custodial sentence as someone with no previous convictions. Of all people processed in the justice system, women constitute 27% of first offenders, but only 14% of repeat offenders. In other words, while men represent about 73% of offenders in the criminal justice system, 86% of people processed for repeat offences are male…..I would suggest that it is at least likely that amongst the most chronic recidivists, an even higher proportion is male.

In principle this is a valid objection. My simple broad-brush analysis takes no account of offending history, but judges will certainly take this into account in passing sentence. It has long been a contention in some quarters that women are treated more harshly in the criminal justice system because they are more likely to be sent to prison on a first conviction. In his speech to the House of Commons on 16 October 2012, Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, was at pains to point out that this is the opposite of the truth. On the basis of Ref.1 he noted that, “Of sentenced first-time offenders, 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“. This picture is confirmed for 2013 by Ref.2 Figure 6.02, which shows that, for first time offenders, men are nearly twice as likely to be sent to prison as women (28% versus 15%) whilst women are more often given suspended sentences or a conditional discharge, see Figure 4.

Figure 4: From Ref.2


However, Mr Fogg’s point is not quite that. He asserts that men are far more likely to be serious recidivists and thus to fairly attract more severe punishment. But what are the facts?

I believe that Mr Fogg’s claim that only 14% of repeat offenders are women relates to data on being cautioned or convicted combined, since I can find that percentage in Ref.2 Table A.01 and also in the “1 in 7” figure on page 51, both of which relate to this combined category. However, what we are interested in is, for people who are sentenced (i.e., convicted), what are the relevant proportions of repeat offending and how does this influence the likelihood of imprisonment?

Ref.2 page 53 indicates that the large majority of both sexes who were sentenced for an indictable offence in 2013 were repeat offenders, namely 86% of women and 91% of men. Moreover, whilst male offenders sentenced for an indictable offence were more likely to have 15 or more previous sanctions, the difference between men and women in this respect is slight: 37% of men and 30% of women. So Mr Fogg’s claim that chronic recidivists are overwhelmingly men is not true.

In respect of the sentences received by such recidivists, Ref.2 page 53 tells us that, “In 2013, the most common disposal for offenders convicted of an indictable offence with 15 or more previous sanctions was immediate custody for both males and females, reflecting that repeat offenders are more likely to get an immediate custodial sentence. A higher proportion of males (40%) with 15 or more previous sanctions received an immediate custodial sentence compared with females (31%)“. So, as anticipated, repeat offenders of either sex are more likely to be imprisoned, but there is again a disparity against males even for a comparable degree of recidivism.

Perhaps most critically for the analysis, Collins assumes that men and women committing the same category of offence are committing the same type of offence. This is an enormous, and entirely unsupported assumption. Violence against the person includes everything from minor assaults to mass murder. Theft could mean shoplifting a jar of babyfood or an enormous gold bullion heist. Fraud could be a failure to declare to the Job Centre a few quid earned for babysitting or it could be a billion pound financial scam.

[Aside: Mr Fogg naughtily leads the reader by using baby-care issues as illustrations of minor offences. Please replace “shoplifting a jar of babyfood” with “a starving homeless man stealing a loaf of bread”. Incidentally, shoplifting is recorded explicitly as such – and men are “far more likely” than women to receive an immediate custodial sentence for shoplifting – Ref.2 page 15.]

It is true that I have implicitly assumed that, on average, offences committed by the two sexes within a given category are equally serious. It is also true that I have offered no support for this. The assumption is made simply on the basis that, in the absence of contrary evidence, this is a reasonable working assumption. Mr Fogg is right that many crime categories cover an enormous range of seriousness. But, as I say in the original post, why should men’s offences for, say, “theft from a vehicle”, or “false accounting” or “fraud” or “causing death by reckless driving”, etc., be any more heinous than women’s on average? In the absence of specific data, the assumption of equity on this matter is reasonable. Mr Fogg disagrees, he says,

Knowing what we do about different patterns of offending by gender, it is utterly nonsensical to assume that the types of offences typically being committed by men and women within the categories are comparable.

I don’t know what Mr Fogg thinks he knows about the differing patterns of offending, but to my mind Figures 2 and 3, above, indicate very similar patterns of offending. Against this background I suggest that my assumption is reasonable, if unsupported, rather than “utterly nonsensical”. The alternative would be to arbitrarily, and without justification, attribute the entire “factor of six” apparent gender disparity to differences of crime severity within each individual crime category, an issue on which…..

We simply do not have the data.

…..and hence cannot be critically examined. This does not necessarily mean that it is untrue. There are limits to what an amateur blogger with access only to publicly available information can do in a few days of effort. To do justice to the topic would require a PhD level of investigation, and access to far more detailed data. The true indictment of our society is that no one seems to have done it.

Of course, the very purpose of Refs.1 and 2 is supposed to be to address potential gender discrimination. Specifically, there is a legal obligation under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 as follows, “The Secretary of State shall in each year publish such information as he considers expedient for the purpose… of facilitating the performance of those engaged in the administration of justice to avoid discriminating against any persons on the ground of race or sex or any other improper ground…”. But Refs.1 and 2 do not make any conclusion on the question of discrimination. Who is charged with the duty of reassuring us on this matter?

There are aspects of these documents which I find worrisome. Why, for example, does the title refer only to “women and the criminal justice system”? And on page 18 of Ref.2 we are told that, “additions are based on suggestions from members of the Women’s Independent Advisory Group and reflect the needs of users of the report“. The additions referred to are new sections on mitigating and aggravating factors which are deemed to have an impact on sentencing disparities. That it was felt necessary to add these sections (between the 2011 and 2013 editions, and hence after Philip Davies’s speech in Parliament) suggests an unacknowledged recognition that a potential case of bias needed to be addressed. That the additions are “based on suggestions” from a women’s group is hardly reassuring when the matter in hand is potential gender bias.

The new sections on mitigating and aggravating factors are based on the Crown Court Sentencing Survey. This is a survey given to all judges sitting in the Crown Court, for them to complete every time a sentence is passed. The forms record details of the factors taken into account by the sentencer in deciding the sentence given to an offender. The survey is voluntary and has a response rate of around 60%. The survey is only completed for those offenders sentenced at the Crown Court, where the types of offences committed are more serious than those that go through the Magistrates’ Court. As the large majority of offenders are sentenced at the Magistrates’ Court (around 97% of females, compared to around 91% of males) the survey covers only a small fraction of sentencing. Superficially the survey provides extra information on how sentences were derived.

The very clear trend is for more mitigation to be applied to women and for more aggravating factors to be applied to men. This may be taken as justifying sentencing disparity. But since most of the categories are value judgments, and the survey is (literally) a tick-box exercise undertaken after the judge has already made his decision, it is inevitable that the survey should align with the trend of sentencing. To take just one example, females received mitigation compared to males based on “physical or mental illness”. Given that 90% of prisoners have a mental disorder it is hard to rationalise this. Similarly, women receive mitigation compared to men based on “remorse” and “good character”. Interestingly, and in contrast, where an issue is factual rather than a value judgement, there can be little difference. For example, for assault and public order offences, men and women are subject to an equal aggravation penalty based on “the actual or threatened use of a weapon”.

Ally Fogg’s last point relates to sexual offences,

Around one in six of the male prison population (around 11,000 excluding remand prisoners) is serving a sentence for a sexual offence. Among women, the figure is less than one in 50. Why? Because there are 56 men prosecuted for sexual offences for every one woman. Meanwhile sexual offences are the category where convicted (people) are more likely to be imprisoned than any other, with around 60% of convicted offenders (whether male or female, incidentally, there is no major difference here) receiving immediate custodial sentences. A good illustration of how far awry Collins’ calculations have taken him is that without any prima facie evidence of biased sentencing in sexual offences, those 11,000 sexual offenders would still be there if male sexual offenders were sentenced identically to female sexual offenders. And yet he assumes that only only 13,000 men should be in prison in total.

Mr Fogg has a point. I confess that I was rather beguiled by the fact that sexual offences account for only about 3% of men’s convictions each year (see Figure 2) and paid it little mind. But my broad brush analysis does not really apply to this exceptional issue. Mr Fogg is correct to point out that somewhere around 10,000 to 11,000 of the male prison population (currently 81,700) are inside for sexual offences, i.e., about 13% – far greater than the conviction rate due to the greater likelihood of imprisonment and probably a longer sentence.

But just a moment. My thesis is that men are treated far more harshly in the criminal justice system than women. Is Ally Fogg really suggesting that sexual offences, of all things, provide a counter-example to this claim? For heavens sake, is this not the area which is the most egregious example of different treatment of the genders? The discrimination in this case lies in the very fact that “56 men are prosecuted for sexual offences for every one woman“. But if men and women were truly subject to the same justice, would there really only be one female offender for every 56 men? The discrimination in this case goes much deeper than the criminal justice system. It is endemic in our society and prevents female offence in this category being recognised – at least, that is my contention.

What evidence is there for the sexual offending of females being far higher than the 56-to-1 prosecution ratio would suggest? I’ll not attempt to summarise it all here. I suspect Mr Fogg knows all about it anyway. But as one example, Michelle Elliott estimates that perhaps around 20% of paedophiles are women (see also the review here, on page 100). Or take the issue of female school teachers sexually exploiting their pupils. In a 2009 dataset I have to hand, under “sexual activity with child under 13” and  “sexual activity with child under 16” no women were sentenced to imprisonment. Under “abuse of trust- sexual offences ” and “gross indecency with children” and “familial sexual offences (incest)” there were a total of just 4 women imprisoned. And yet one can list hundreds of cases of female teachers in the USA being convicted for sexually exploiting their pupils. Yes, the US population is greater, but only about five times greater. It seems likely, though I have no proof, that women in the UK having sex with under-aged boys is under-recognised and under-prosecuted. And then there is the quagmire of adult female on adult male sexual abuse. Again, shrouded in mystery and controversy, but almost certainly far more widespread than is recognised either in society as a whole or in the criminal justice system in particular.

So, do I claim that my 5-in-6 figure is correct to the 9 decimal place accuracy of quantum field theory? No, of course not. But it remains my best estimate until such a time as someone does a demonstrably better job. I hope they do. The real issue is that there is discrimination and it is of substantial magnitude. Although giving it a precise numerical value is not strictly the point, there’s nothing quite like a specific number for making people sit up and take notice. My analysis is certainly crude but I hope I have demonstrated that it does not deserve to be written off as “arrant nonsense”.

Finally, having responded to all Mr Fogg’s points, I’d like to close by returning to Figure 1. It shows a roughly 8-fold increase in male prisoners over the last 75 years.


Crime in general, and violent crime in particular, has been falling for at least the last 10 years, and perhaps the last 20 years (see here, page 30). So why has the male prison population continued its steep increase?

Discrimination is not the only possible answer. But the 8-fold increase does align crudely with my identified factor of 6, and it has occurred over the timescale in which denigration of men has become widespread and acceptable. If it is not discrimination within the criminal justice system then it surely must be a consequence of the societal changes which have gone hand in hand with the aforesaid denigration: family breakdown, the marginalisation of fathers and the loss of male investment in society. So, to end on a point of agreement with Mr Fogg,

Prison, for both men and women, is an expensive, ineffective and inhumane anachronism in a civilised society. Pretty much every inmate detained is a testament to multiple failures in social policy, social care, education, welfare, mental health and addiction services. There are innumerable strong arguments for reform of sentencing and penal policies.

Indeed. But the anger which Mr Fogg so dislikes in the MRM arises because the likes of the Corston Report promulgate the view that only women are deserving of such compassion – when it is so very obvious that it is specifically men who need it more.

If Mr Fogg wishes to leave a comment here I will afford him the privilege of having the last word. I will not indulge in comment Ping-Pong.

30 thoughts on “5 in 6 Men? A Response to Ally Fogg

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  3. William Collins Post author

    On 6th Feb 2017 Ally Fogg wrote in a comment on his own blog, “Dude, we went over that across about 300 comments over two blog posts and every single thing I said in the original turned out to be absolutely correct. If you are too wilfully obtuse to understand the problems with Collins’s analysis then that is not my problem. Even he admitted in the end that he couldn’t justify his own data.”(http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2017/02/01/being-philip-davies/#ixzz4XwcX9AAh)

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  6. Douglas Milnes

    Just a small comment in passing.

    If the genders were reversed and women were even slightly suspected of being discriminated against, there would be an outcry. That outcry would lead to some feminist NGO being given huge amounts of money to ‘investigate’ “the problem” (by this time, it would already not be a mere suspicion).

    (Being a feminist group, they would start from the conclusion (man = bad) and discover what they need to say to prove it, as usual.)

    Instead, it is men discriminated against. There is no Minister For Men, there is no Men’s Interest Group among MPs, and no-one is going to give a grant to a men’s NGO to look into the problem. Instead, hard working, unpaid people like William Collins have to do the best they can as amateurs without a budget and without easy access to the data.

    William, I don’t want to embarass you but you are a hero. Like I feel the need to let Philip Davies MP know that he is supported for speaking out against feminist lies (link via my name), I feel the need to make sure that people like you know that you are appreciated for all your labours. Thank you.

    1. William Collins Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. However, I merely regard it as a moral obligation. For the first 95% of my life I was apathetic and took no interest in politics. I was of the view that politics was no occupation for a gentleman. I think so still, but there is one exception. When one sees one’s society being taken over by totalitarianism it is no longer acceptable to remain unresponsive. It becomes a moral obligation to fight it. Every generation, I suspect, must fight anew for its freedoms – but unfortunately we have forgotten that.

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  9. Steven

    Interesting. I notice that even those arguing against you ‘do not dispute that there is gender bias against men at every stage in the criminal justice system’ (Ally Fogg). It is very revealing, given that acknowledgement, that we do not have a comprehensive, professional assessment to determine the truth of the matter.

    Is it 5 in 6, or 3 in 4, or something else? Even if it is only 10% it is still an injustice, but given the feedback loop of how certain factors stack, and the nature of exponential growth, I would be absolutely shocked if the outcome extrapolated out to less than 1 in 2.

    1. William Collins

      The link I’ve added to the start of the original post, http://redpilluk.co.uk/GenderDisparityinImprisonmenttalkforUCLGEN.pdf, shows an additional analysis in which attention is confined to the (more serious) indictable offences. This produces a factor of 3.6. But it must be recalled that this is only the disparity in sentencing. What I have not explored is any additional disparity in (i) likelihood of arrest, (ii) likelihood of prosecution, and, (iii) likelihood of conviction. USA studies do reveal that there are disparities there too.

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  12. CWPC

    Thanks for your serious analysis. Criminal justice statistics are complicated. That makes it easily for persons to lose sight of the big picture.

    To see the big picture, we suggest that you consider the sex ratio of persons in prison in England and Wales since 1750. See the graph here:


    The underlying data are freely available here:


    The sex ratio of prisoners in the UK today is about 20 men per woman. A historically common sex ratio has been 5 men per woman in prison. That suggests that 3 out of every 4 men in prison are there as a result of systemic anti-men bias.

    We think that 3 out of 4 is better estimate than 5 in 6. Understanding the supporting data for that estimate is also easier. That said, you are certainly correct that anti-men gender bias exists in every stage of the criminal justice funnel.

    We applaud your concern for equal justice under law.

    1. William Collins

      You might well be right that 3 out of 4 is closer than 5 out of 6, I don’t know. An obvious criticism of your estimate is that it assumes there was no bias historically when the ratio was 5:1, but there may well have been bias even then. But you can equally pick holes in my analysis. As a physicist I value highly being able to do a calculation in two completely independent ways. If they come up with broadly the same answer then you can be sure you’ve got it about right. This is the case here. Your argument based on historical comparison is fully independent from mine based on a snap-shot in time, and yet the estimates of 3-in-4 and 5-in-6 are, as far as I am concerned, much the same (to within the error bars of the analyses). I take that as powerful confirmation of what we are both claiming: that the anti-male (or pro-female) bias in sentencing is not minor but huge. That is the salient fact which I think we can take to be definitively established. And yet, despite that, the likes of the Corston Report and initiatives such as this http://www.thegriffinssociety.org/Griffins%20Society%20Research%20Fellowships%20Programme%20Advert%202015%20FINAL.pdf continue to focus attention solely on female offenders.

  13. disqus_QL05BqU79X

    “20% of paedophiles are women”?

    No. Half. It could be no other figure and this is a hugely important natural scientific fact to grasp: paedophilila is not an act. It is the “target-age” factor of a sexual orientation whereby the person suffers a measure of sexual attraction to prepubescent children; this becomes apparent when the person reaches adolescence, as do all facets of one’s sexual orientation. Hebephilia covers the pubescent age range (variant depending on the individual, of course) and beyond that age…well, who is to say? Humans were considered biologically adult at 13 in England until the late 1800s and 12, believe it or not, until 1929 in Scotland. [Some scientists use the term ephebophile for adults attracted to adolescents, but its generally moot.]

    Paedophilia (the distribution-scale opposite of gerontophilia) is thankfully very, very rare, falling as it does so far outside of the normal human biological imperative. Young children have no intrinsic sexual qualities and cannot breed, hence the need for a name for this paraphilia. It is, and should remain, a scientific term and sufferers offered help. The term was unheard outside of the psychiatric profession until the 1990s that’s simply become a media term (scattered like birdseed at the feet of males) for sexual activity, real or imagined, between under-16s and over-18s in the UK. Clearly, in countries with different legislative rulings, nature somehow changes. How quaint.

    Nonsensical legal fictions aside, such a pathology is in-born and locked in the DNA and is NOT a gender-specific trait. It is biologically impossible for such an orientation to be more prevalent in males.

    The actual rates of sexual abuse committed by adults on children is not something many people have really studied dispassionately at all – the debate is owned by profiteering feminists, of course, hence the juked crime figures and men in prisons for crimes not committed – but it does seem that women commit more of it (and on boys, of course) but are not being reported, caught, or punished and their victims naturally find it almost impossible to be believed.

    Once some starts tackling this issue as they have with the subject of domestic violence – all real studies therein showing that such abuse is committed, or at least started, almost entirely by women, with men ‘fighting back’ in some instances – I genuinely suspect that female-perpetrated sexual assault, coercion and rape of young males will be seen for what it is: a hidden pandemic.

    Still, the legal system doesn’t make money from punishing women, so we can expect to see more men locked up instead. Go ‘patriarchy.’

  14. AJ

    Any anaysis of real world data will has to make assumptions in order to progress at all. The important thing is that the assumptions are reasonable, as simple as possible and not chosen in order to achieve a desired outcome in the analysis. Ally’s points about assumptions of equal severity between men and women ar technically true but dishonest in the sense that he suggests no better replacement for the assumption. If he suggested an alternatie it could be plugged in and the effect seen he does not I suspect because he knows that no reasonable alternative would affect the analysis result in a qualatative way. This is the essence of ALly’s dishonesty the results show a massive disparity in the way men and women are treated post-conviction. If all of Ally’s criticisms are true, and they may well not be this result would not be affected at all.

    The more important observation is that the analysis is only post conviction. There are a lot of reasons to think that biases in the rate of conviction from the reporting of crime, to the probability of charging, the specific offences that are applied and the probability of conviction are all likely to have similar biases. I have no idea how to even start trying to analyse this numerically but the shocking thing that has slowly dawned on me is that if these factors are even close to the same impact as the post-conviction biases there is a chance that the entire disparity between the men and womens prison population is simply down to discrimination against men. It never even occured to me that this could be the case. I had always assumed as most do that men are mor eviolent an dmor elikely to offend bu another factor of 4 to 6 multiplied by a factor of 4 to 6 post conviction would mena that men are no more criminal than women. This is not in any sense evidence but makes an even stronger case that some real research should be done.

  15. Jeremy

    In principle this is a valid objection. My simple broad-brush analysis takes no account of offending history, but judges will certainly take this into account in passing sentence

    No it isn’t.

    Your offending history is primarily determined by whether or not a court determined that you had offended, and what institutionalization you receive as a result of that. Jail time creates institutionalization in the people incarcerated regardless of gender. If women are incarcerated less, they are simply less likely to re-offend because they have spent less time behind bars and more time making social/business contacts and generally being self-enterprising for their own good.

    Jail time turns you into more of a criminal, because it surrounds you with criminals and gives you no possibility of networking with the outside, legitimate world and improving your situation once you’re out.

    Hence, it is a circular argument to simply say that offense history determines sentence, and therefore male sentences cannot be biased because they merely reflect on previous (magically) “unbiased” sentences. His argument there is entirely unsound. If the system is rotten, you can’t use past determination by the system to justify current conditions.

    1. Ally Fogg

      No, sorry Jeremy, repeat offending has nothing to do with previous sentencing or incarceration, it is about whether or not you have ever been convicted / cautioned / reprimanded for the same offence before.

      1. Jeremy

        What you seem to be saying is that, all things being equal… a person who has never been a criminal in his life is just as likely to commit any particular offense as someone who is a lifelong criminal. I’m fairly certain that’s observably false, though I confess there likely aren’t many actual situations where all other things are perfectly equal.

        1. Ally Fogg

          But the vast majority of offenders do not go to prison and the vast majority of people who have previously offended were not imprisoned as a result, so it is unlikely to be the brutalising effects of incarceration causing the effect.

          1. Jeremy

            From above, your previous words:

            The first point (William Collins) misses is that the single biggest influence on whether a defendant is sent to prison (and for how long) is not their gender, or even the category of offence, but their offending history. Someone with 15 or more previous convictions is nearly five times as likely to receive a custodial sentence as someone with no previous convictions.

            So now you’re just contradicting yourself? Please explain how your immediately previous comment, and that clip from your prior rebuttal can both be true.

            Men are valued by their careers. Prison removes any possibility of a man learning to use his industry and thus improve his value in life. Hence, any convictions (that affect your career through background checks) or prison time affects the male ability to find a legitimate path in society far more than it affects women, and yet you’re willing to claim what you just tried to claim.

            I’m afraid I can’t take you seriously.

          2. disqus_QL05BqU79X

            That’s largely because the prisons are overfilled already. Probation Services – now privatised – are sequestering bodies onto their books for profit, big time. Once new prisons are built, they will be filled again.

            This is not some conspiracy theory, it’s business. The Crown is a corporation of agencies and the Ministry of Justice (that word!) has remits.

  16. CitymanMichael

    Another fantastic job here, William. Incisive, insightful, balanced, well researched. A real credit to you.
    Here is another statistic to make you think – killers of white women in the US get on average 14 times more prison time than killers of black men.
    Any person who has been looking at the gender gap in the UK knows anecdotally that women receive much more lenient sentences than men – we have not known the figures – until now.

  17. amibothered

    I don’t think Ally Fogg has disproved your assertions at all. He has taken the approach to have a good dig at you firstly and then try to fit the evidence to support his view of you.

    I normally regard Foggy as a fairly reliable source of sorting the wheat from the chaff, regarding evidence supporting a particular view. This time he has put his feelings before evidence and came up looking rather a chump.

    These comments from another poster on the Foggy blog are also rather pertinent, well before it gets to court the discrimination begins:


    “Most criminal cases are heard at magistrates courts after all, plus if the Police and CPS see that there is little or no point in prosecuting women because the Courts aregoing to be lenient with them, then the system breaks down in regards to women offenders and they are treated leniently and let off before they even get to the point of being prosecuted.

    It’s relatively old research you quoted but we have sustained campaigns from the likes of the Fawcett Society and MPs such as Simon Hughes (Justice Minister) who see women as needing preferential treatment when it comes to sentencing.

    So there is a mantra from government to the judiciary in the importance of treating women more leniently in relation to prison sentences, which filters down to the CPS, Police and others involved in criminal matters.

    Look at the pressures on the authorities to treat women differently:


    It is a worsening problem of discrimination given that the government and campaign groups are consistently vociferous about reducing sentencing for women, despite the fact
    they are already treated leniently in comparison to men.

    The government and the judiciary have been sending out a message to the Police and CPS for many years, and also guidelines and instructions that women are to be treated differently throughout the process.

    So even before it gets to Court, women are treated far more leniently than men by those involved, including the Police and CPS. They are instructed to do so by government policy
    and the judiciary’s attitude to women offenders.

    With this attitude from atop, Police and even those reporting crime by females know very well that women will be treated leniently by the system and on top of this attitude there is the patronising and also the feminist attitude to treating women preferentially in society.

    This all helps to keep women out of the Courts in the first place, whereas men are processed by the system without the same consideration. Repeat offending rates of women are then of course going to be lower as the whole system tries to keep women out of the courts in the first place.

    It does tho demonstrate the lengths the authorities and campaign groups will go, to keep women out of prison, simply because they are women and mothers.

    Men and fathers on the other hand are afforded little or no such alternatives, support or the
    blind eye approach which is taken (to some extent) for females in comparison.

    That offending males are not treated throughout the process to the same standards as women offenders.”


    1. Ally Fogg

      Hi amibothered.

      As you should know, I do not dispute that there is gender bias against men at every stage in the criminal justice system. I have written about it extensively in the past, including in the Guardian and Independent.

      What I dispute is that William’s calculations – specifically that 5/6 men in prison (68,000) would not be there if men were sentenced to the same standards as women. That claim cannot be made on the basis of the available evidence.

      1. amibothered

        You may be right on that specific calculation, William Collins says he is not set in stone on this and is willing to be persuaded with evidence.

        I think the tone of your original post was unfortunate and not helpful in working towards finding the reality regarding different sentencing standards and approaches based on gender.

        Your previous work and your continued efforts regarding gender bias towards men and women, I applaud.

  18. Pingback: William Collins (mra-uk) responds to Ally Fogg’s critique of his claim about a gender bias in custodal sentences | Justice for men & boys

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