In comparison to ethnic minorities, women as suspects areunder-represented within the CJS. Female suspects within the area of CJS are inthe minority, under-researched and are policed differently compared to ethnicminority groups. Earle, Nadin and Jacobson (2014, p.3) found that in 2013,women accounted for only 13% of those arrested and are “less likely to commitserious and violent offences.” Kury, Redo and Shea (2016) state that treatingwomen differently in the CJS constitutes discrimination, given the low numberof female suspects. This is supported bythe MOJ (2010) which outlines the lack of data available by gender displayingonly police recorded statistics on arrests and how data on the gender of thosewho are stopped and searched are not reported centrally.
However, this iscontested by Havis and Best (2004) who conducted a pilot project based oncomplaints of stop and search which found that men were more likely to makecomplaints (85%) compared to the complaints made by women (15%). Although thisstudy did not focus on stop and search statistics by gender, it does offer aninsight into the disproportionate underrepresentation of women as suspects ofstop and search. Campbell (1981) also stated that female suspects were morelikely than males to be cautioned rather than prosecuted. This is evident fromthe MOJ (2015) which displays how in 2011, three quarters (76%) of males wereissued cautions compared to a quarter (24%) of females.
Thus, the evidenceprovided highlights the gender difference and unequal treatment of policingsuspects within the CJS.Firstly, an explanation to highlight the unequal treatment by gender inthe CJS as suspects relies on the treatment of women by police and the ChivalryThesis proposed by Pollak (1950). This theory suggests that women are dealtwith more leniently than men and are let off lightly by the CJS. This ideastems from the attitudes of males in the CJS as they are socialised to act in a”chivalrous” way towards women as they are perceived as “weak and dependent”, DeKeseredy and Perry (2006). Thus, policeofficers may feel that they have a duty to protect women, resulting in lessarrests, charges, prosecution and convictions. This suggests that female crimeis less likely to end up in official statistics as it may not be recorded,creating an invalid picture of women as suspects and exaggerating genderdifferences in these statistics.
However, Feminists believe that the CJS isbias against women, criticising Pollack’s (1950) theory as they suggest that heassumed that all female suspects were given leniency, without exploring widerstructural explanations and women who represented different categories (e.g.women of colour versus white women, wealthy women versus poor women, etc), (Corsianos, 2009). Lloyd (1995, cited in Marsh, Cochraneand Melville, 2004) also argues that this chivalrous treatment seemed to belimited for women who conformed against stereotypical views of women, in turnthey were treated with even less understanding, and in some cases, even moreharshly than male offenders as they held notions against “good women”. Secondly, another explanation is the role ofsocialisation. Theories of socialisation in relation to crime may emphasise thegendered differences in offending, gender roles and gendered identities. Femalesocialisation stresses passive, conformist and caring behaviour.
Parsons andBales (1956) argued that females possess an “expressive role” which consists ofthem catering to the emotional needs of their families. This suggests thatwomen are less likely to harm others, and have less time and opportunity tocommit crime. The “Evil Woman” thesis also suggests that gender is a keydimension of the treatment of women in the CJS. From this perspective, women’slifestyles which do not conform to the normative standards of femininity set bymen are deemed as doubly deviant, suggesting that they are doubly condemned andpunished. There are two reasons for this: firstly, for violating sociallydefined gender norms and secondly for violating the law (Carlen, 1983).
Policeofficers may not perceive women as stereotypical “typical criminals” so theymay not place women so easily in this category, suggesting that women are morelikely to be targeted as suspects and arrested when they deviate fromtraditional norms. On the other hand, this displays discriminatory attitudesfrom police officers as they deliberately treat women as suspects when they donot abide to societal norms (Case et al, 2017).