Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:09 UK

Sentencing of female offenders

Conservative backbencher Philip Davies has accused politicians of indulging in "politically correct nonsense" for saying that women are treated more unfairly than men in sentencing policies.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on 16 October 2012 on the sentencing of women, the MP for Shipley said there was "unequivocal evidence that women are treated far more favourably than men".

He claimed that 58% of male offenders who entered a guilty plea were given a custodial sentence compared with just 34% of women.

There are currently 13 women's prisons in England, two of which are privately run.

According to the Ministry of Justice, prisons for men and those for women operate within the same rules and policies; however all women's prisons are additionally required to comply with "gender specific standards".

Mr Davies's Conservative colleague, Hexham MP Guy Opperman, argued that women sometimes needed to be treated more favourably due to their responsibilities for children.

However Mr Davies replied that two thirds of mothers sent to prison were no longer looking after their children.

"Why is there all this huge outcry about separating mothers from their children?" he asked.

Winding up the debate, Justice Minister Helen Grant insisted that the sentencing framework was "gender neutral".

However she added that sentencing that did not allow individual circumstances to be taken into account "would not be just".

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