Number of women caught carrying knives is on the rise
According to police figures, since 2014, the number of knife possession offences involving women in England has increased by at least 10% every year. In 2018, 1,509 offences were recorded which is an increase of 73% over the last five years and figures for England show that between 2014 and 2018, there were more than 5,800 recorded knife possession crimes involving women. IZA World of Labor author Nadia Campaniello has looked extensively at women’s participation in the labor market and in the crime market over the last 50 years.
In hear article, Campaniello writes: “There is still a gender gap in the crime market, but the number of women committing crimes is on the rise, partly because other socio-economic gender gaps have been shrinking. Women have more freedom than in the past, and with that come more opportunities for crime. Despite increasing social equality, police and judicial systems still tend to be more lenient with female than with male offenders.”
Campaniello’s findings are echoed by youth workers, who are of the opinion that some women carry weapons for gangs as they are less likely to be stopped by police. “This more lenient treatment tends to lower the expected cost of committing a crime for women,” Campaniello adds. On the other hand, the Home Office is funding schemes to help gang-affected women and girls. Those programs are much needed as, according to data from 38 out of 39 police forces in England, almost a quarter of recorded offences involve girls under the age of 18.
Jennifer Blake, a former gang leader from south London, now works as a community support worker and independent gangs consultant. According to Blake: “For some women it's a normal thing to have in your bag, like lipstick. […] Everywhere you go you have problems with girls and their identity, their self-worth and those are the vulnerable ones that boys end up picking up.” Some girls and women from broken homes might liken street gangs to their own family and would do anything to fit in, she adds.
The Home Office is investing £220m into preventing young women and men from getting involved with violent crime. When it comes to female offenders in particular, the government department supports and funds young people’s advocates who work with girls and women who are affected by gangs in London, Manchester and the West Midlands. “We recently announced plans to recruit 20,000 more police officers and empower them to use fair and intelligence-led stop and search, to prevent more young people falling victim to knife crime,” a spokesperson added.
Read Nadia Campaniello’s article Women in crime.