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Most women are jailed due to the men in their lives - Vicky Pryce

(61 Posts)
kim147 Mon 14-Oct-13 13:47:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Thu 17-Oct-13 19:28:11

I think you are trying to find an argument I'm not making Beatrix. In fact I'm not making any argument. I am just expressing sadness that so many women (in terms of the proportions of women in prison) are resorting to crime out of desperation.

I am not arguing that the proportion is too high or they shouldn't be in prison. I was just observing.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 17:59:31

I just want to pick up on something you mentioned kim.

"It seems several well known people who end up in jail come out as experts on the prison system.But it is good for them to see another world."

I think that a former prisoner,whether well known or not,really has an insight to offer that cannot be gauged from statistics. Ms Pryce is speaking from a position that the majority of women have not been in.
In that respect,I think she is better placed to offer her opinion than many.

But,what the actual root cause is,is surely a matter of opinion,rather than a matter of fact,and I still say the most likely base cause is poverty. Poverty has a lot to answer for.Lack of choice.Lack of vision for the future.Lack of educational opportunities.

Beatrixparty Thu 17-Oct-13 17:25:52


I still don't understand. In the past I have argued with MRA types, who say that they are shocked that the low proportion of fathers having residence of their children is unfair. They don't seem to realise that fairness has nothing to do with it. A judge at Court doesn't keep tabs of their judgement that day, awarding 50% of all residence cases to fathers and 50% to mothers - just to keep proportions 'fair'. More often that not, it is better for children to stay with mothers and each case is judged on its facts.

In the same way, given that these women have eventually crossed the custody threshold - each case again judged on its facts - the only way for the proportion of their numbers to be smaller would be for more women to be given custodial sentences for other offences - I cant see that is what you would want.

I don't think I'm being obtuse ?

scallopsrgreat Thu 17-Oct-13 15:45:10

Well I think it is sad that a third of women are in prison for a crime born out of desperation. And I am shocked that it is such a high proportion of women.

Beatrixparty Thu 17-Oct-13 11:02:33

Very often the reason for the theft are to pay for drug habits, typically (in my day) a £10 bag of heroin. But yes, such women are hardly flush with disposable money - so cutting out the interminable rounds of fines, would take out a large part of the process.

I don't understand your last sentence, what does the proportion have to do with it - each case is judged on its own facts.

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Thu 17-Oct-13 11:00:32

As mentioned upthread though, the stats are meaningless in isolation.

They need to be detailed with the equivalent stats for Men so a comparison can be made. At the moment I've no idea if 50% of men are in jail for shoplifting, or whether they get jail for running gangs of shoplifting women - bringing us back to the OP.

Ideally an idea of previous offences would be nice too so you could build up a "story" behind each number, but I can't see that being achievable with publicly available figures.

scallopsrgreat Thu 17-Oct-13 10:40:36

I'm not disputing any of that. I would hope that is the process. Mind you fining someone who is stealing because they can't afford to live is sadly ironic.

I am not shocked that women are in jail for shoplifting. I am shocked and saddened at the proportion of women in jail for such a minor crime.

Beatrixparty Thu 17-Oct-13 10:30:38


What I was getting at is that it is a gradual process in the main before a woman gets a custodial sentence - probably involving many many repeat offences of shoplifting - initially, the bench would start at a conditional discharge, fines (the magistrates typically impose fine after fine). Often no or little attempt is given to pay of these fines. Then as the same woman keeps on being brought before the bench, they will order pre-sentence reports, try to identify issues, try community based orders - unpaid work in the community and rehabilitation programmes, then if these don't work suspended custodial sentences coupled with more community orders, breaches of these - more shoplifiting until eventually the woman does get a custodial sentence. Any outstanding fines, for whatever original offence she has built up until then are then wiped off the slate at that point.

Then people are shocked at the statistics that there are women that are jailed for shoplifting. I would agree that women ought not to be jailed for such petty offences - but no-one finds themselves in prison at the drop of a hat for shoplifting unless there are very serious aggravating circumstances - they are warned time and time again by the courts of what will eventually happen.

If I had to suggest a solution it would be to vastly improve the provision of community orders so that they actually work.

scallopsrgreat Thu 17-Oct-13 10:05:28


OK well first of all I wasn't on MN yesterday so many many apologies for not responding to you in a timescale of your choosing Beatrix.

Really not sure why you are asking the question in the first place. I am not disputing that the women are sent to jail. As Trills said I was rather more interested that such a significant proportion of women in jail are in for such a relatively minor crime. One that is definitely related to poverty as VerySmallSqueak said. This was vaguely in response to NotDead. I can't imagine that custodial sentences for shoplifting are that great. I also can't imagine that a third of men are in prison for shoplifting. I was just musing really about comparing like for like between sentences for men and women when the make-up of women's crimes are very different to men's. They are far more likely to assist in crime than be the criminal masterminds.

I thought VerySmallSqueak has raised an interesting point with poverty because it touches on the feminization of poverty and men's part in that.

Beatrixparty Thu 17-Oct-13 09:18:40


I was looking forward to an answer of sorts, still.....

A probable answer to my above question would be - for a woman found guilty of shoplifting, where she is of previously good character, where there are no aggravating features such as threats made nor involving a child in the crime, early guilty plea - most benches would easily be persuaded to hand down a conditional discharge - meaning no punishment unless within (say) 6-12 months, the woman commits a similar offence - and then she would be re-sentenced for the original offence (as well as the new offence). So imagine again you are the magistrates that has to sentence this woman that has been convicted of a second offence within the set period. What sentence are you looking to impose here now ?

Trills Wed 16-Oct-13 20:56:00

Shoplifting accounts for a third of women in prison. Shoplifting.

This could just mean that, of crimes that can result in a prison sentence, shoplifting is the one that women commit most often.

Beatrixparty Wed 16-Oct-13 09:07:07


Shoplifting accounts for a third of women in prison. Shoplifting.

Ok - imagine you are a magistrate sentencing a woman before you for shoplifting. What sentence would you impose ?

BillyBanter Wed 16-Oct-13 00:16:35

Looking at those stats it suggests to me that the circs that make them more likely to spend time in prison are the same circs that make them more likely to be in unhealthy relationships.

There is always a reason someone ends up in jail. I would expect there to be some sort of correlation between abusive relationships and prison time but correlation does not equal causation.

Sthingmustbescaringthemaway Tue 15-Oct-13 23:57:14

Exactly what proportion of women, on gaining release, are able to capitalize on their imprisonment by feeding the British media's hunger for the pontifications of the formerly great and good?

And are they able to access this ladder back to their former status to the same degree as a comparable group of men?

VerySmallSqueak Tue 15-Oct-13 23:39:26

It's my belief that many women end up in prison because of poverty.

scallopsrgreat Tue 15-Oct-13 23:30:16

but also have given the courts reason to be given longer sentences. I am sure they have. After all their behaviour as victims also accounts for lesser sentences for men too.

scallopsrgreat Tue 15-Oct-13 23:29:03

Shoplifting accounts for a third of women in prison. Shoplifting.

NotDead Tue 15-Oct-13 17:21:14

ptobably not best to rake up too much of a debate here. Sentences for women offence by offence, are a third that of men with women also far less likely to recieve a custodial senrence in the first place.

The other side of this is that women receiving long prison sentences are likely to have committed not only more serious crimes, but also have given the courts reason to be given longer sentences.

Anniegetyourgun Tue 15-Oct-13 16:59:27

<wonders who Beatrixparty is and what she has been taking>

Beatrixparty Tue 15-Oct-13 09:22:58


Do you mean, where the imprisonment is solely for a failure to pay the fine (rather than payment of the licence itself - sorry to be so pedantic) and not for other fines too (they very often get bundled together don't they) - and where the sentencing magistrates at the specialist fines court (no doubt about it that each of those magistrates will be a MENZ) have determinedly ignored the legal test as to whether or not such a failure is a 'wilful refusal' to pay, rather than an inabilty to pay. (you will be aware that it is only upon a finding of wilful refusal to pay a fine, that allows a court to impose a custodial sentence - even a suspended one.). My first thought was....well i'm sure that you wouldn't be happy with my first thoughts

so I'd revise my answer to hundreds if not thousands, with no chance of early release - with a possibility - nay likelihood - of deportation to Australia (not one of the nice parts either) upon eventual release.

So there we are - hundreds if not thousands.

ScaryFucker Mon 14-Oct-13 23:01:19

Gut reaction ? I think I agree with Ms Pryce on that particular point.

Darkesteyes Mon 14-Oct-13 22:57:12

I wonder how many single mums are in prison due to non payment of things like the TV licence due to the financial abuse of an ex who wont pay Child Support.

scallopsrgreat Mon 14-Oct-13 21:29:28

I didn't actually infer that from those stats Beatrixparty I got that from Eve was framed (via memory and paraphrased because I didn't have it in front of me).

3 times as many women as men are jailed for their first offence. I am sure you are right that there are a range of reasons but one of the significant reasons she gives is:

"Because their lack of resources make financial penalties unsuitable and because there are so few community programmes suitable for women, female offenders end up in prison despite the often trivial nature of their offending."

"Women in Prison report that ironically sometimes receive harsher sentences than men because they are mothers. They maybe deemed unsuitable for community service because they have young children, but then the courts, unable or unwilling to come up with an alternative punishment, send them to jail."

Beatrixparty Mon 14-Oct-13 17:23:57


Women are more likely to be put in prison for first offences because they can't do alternatives such as community service due to childcare responsiblities. So children get put in care whilst their mothers go to prison.

If really doubt this is true. I have several years of experience of working in magistrates court. Magistrates are generally loath to sentence women into custody. I do not recall seeing a pre-sentence report recommending custody for the above reasons.

One has to be careful drawing inferences from statistics. The above fact about re: no previous convictions, might be true, but it might be for different reasons. Male pattern of offending often starts with petty crime such as driving offences, minor public order act offences, minor assaults arising from fights in pubs, streets etc. Whereas as women don't in pick up such convictions large numbers. Police often give women warnings in such circumstances rather than arresting / charging them - often the facts aren't so serious. So womens' profile are a lot different - I think too (from memory) a significant proportion of those women that do end up getting a custodial sentence are the drug mules from abroad - any previous convictions they might have don't 'follow' them into Court.

Trills Mon 14-Oct-13 17:10:32

Thanks for digging those out.

I'd like to see the stats in the other direction as well - not just "what % of women in prison have depression" but also "what % of women who have depression end up in prison" if you see what I mean, but it does look as if there's a differential there.

Only 9% of children whose mothers are in prison are cared for by their fathers in their mothers’ absence.

This one ties in very well with the title of the thread. If we believe the statement in the title to be true, then:
When a man is in prison, it's not "due to" the woman in his life, so it's fine for her to look after the children
When a woman is in prison, it is "due to" the man in her life, so he is either in prison too or is generally not fit to look after the children.

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