Magistrates in the Thames Valley are almost three times as likely to send a woman to prison as courts in other parts of England and Wales, according to new figures.
The Howard League for Penal Reform has studied how sentencing rates for women vary from county to county.
It says the figures suggest that, while many magistrates’ courts are making good use of community sentences which help cut crime and turn women’s lives around, other benches are imposing prison terms unnecessarily in some cases.
Courts in the Thames Valley area imposed custodial sentences in 1.9 per cent of the cases they heard in 2011 – almost three times as often as benches in criminal justice areas such as Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northumbria and Wiltshire.
Chief executive Frances Crook said: "It is disappointing."
The Howard League for Penal Reform is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
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