Vicky Pryce: Most women jailed due to men in their life

 
Vicky Pryce Vicky Pryce adopted a defence of marital coercion at her trial

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Most women in Holloway prison are there because of something the men in their life have done, recently jailed Vicky Pryce has told the BBC.

The former wife of ex-minister Chris Huhne was sentenced to eight months for perverting the course of justice after taking speeding points for him.

"I did something, I paid the price," she told Radio 4's Today programme.

The economist - who had claimed her husband coerced her - has written a book about the economics of prison.

Her royalties from the book will go to the charity Working Chance, which helps women with criminal convictions find work.

Pryce, who was recently stripped of her Companion of the Order of the Bath, served two months in the north London prison earlier this year.

Some women "were victims themselves" before they committed an offence, says Pryce

Huhne, the former energy secretary, was also jailed for the same offence.

He left Pryce in 2010 as his affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham was about to be exposed.

During the former couple's trial, the court heard Pryce had revealed the speeding points scandal to newspapers in 2011 to seek revenge.

Asked whether she agreed with Chris Huhne's assessment that they had fallen victim to the Murdoch press, she said: "I don't begrudge anyone in terms of what's happened - or any of the journalists frankly - in my view one has to just look forward.

"I did something, I paid the price of it and that is it."

'Learn from it'

On the prospect of going to prison, Ms Pryce said she knew it was "something I simply had to survive and perhaps learn from it obviously, and see what goes on".

The worst aspect of prison life was "losing my liberty, but mostly worrying about my children - that they would be worried about me and how do I react to ensure that they feel that 'actually I'm ok'.

"And of course that meant that I also had to stay strong."

Holloway Prison Vicky Pryce spent part of her sentence in HMP Holloway in north London

On the claim in her book that many women in Holloway were there mostly because of something their husbands, brothers and fathers had done, she said: "Clearly they knew what they were doing but it didn't mean that they necessarily wanted to do what they did.

"Vulnerable women who often have lost their self esteem - they could be prostitutes, they could be people who are stealing to feed their, but also their other-half's, drug habits.

Start Quote

There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down”

End Quote Vicky Pryce

"More than 50% of women who enter jail have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. And those are statistics quoted by everybody.

"Of course you are [responsible for your actions] and they were. The thing to remember is that they were very vulnerable at the time they were doing it and they remain vulnerable.

"The interesting thing is that jail doesn't do anything to take that away from them and they leave prison after a while, go back into society and they find themselves in exactly the same position and they re-offend."

She said there had been surprises, such as Holloway's reception area which meant she hadn't felt "threatened" by entering it. "It felt that somebody worried about you," she said.

On how well the prison system was coping, she said: "There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down.

"The causality doesn't work that way. The causality works in a way that says in fact crime has been reducing because of things to do with technology - making it difficult to break into houses, difficult to break into cars - and all that sort of stuff, and yet the numbers have been going up very, very significantly.

"Women in particular, the numbers have gone up by 27% between 2000 and 2010, while crime has been coming down.

"It makes no sense at all. The costs are enormous. There are so many cheaper ways to deal with this whole issue, which is what the Prisonomics book is all about."

 

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  74.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor

    tweets: Small irony. Watching from my sickbed as PM tries to shield himself on NHS by quoting my "weaponise" report. Time for an aspirin! :) #pmqs

     
  75.  
    @MSmithsonPB Mike Smithson, Political Betting

    Tweets: Today's #PMQs is the best argument against having TV debates. This is dire.

     
  76.  
    @Kevin_Maguire Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor

    Tweets; Miliband let Cameron off the hook for breaking promises by shutting NHS units. Won't keep that #pmqs in his video highlights

     
  77.  
    @thomasbrake Tom Brake, Lib Dem MP

    tweets: #pmqs nhs centre stage. All that was missing was a reference to #savesthelier.

     
  78.  
    @andybell5news Andy Bell, Channel 5 News political editor

    tweets: Win for Cameron - Miiband failed to make new #NHS attack stick after NHS England shot it down - also still vulnerable on the w word

     
  79.  
    12:19: Stuck in the middle? House of Commons Parliament

    Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert is next up after the prime minister's tussle with Ed Miliband. He invokes Stealers Wheel hit Stuck in the Middle with You, saying there are "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right".

     
  80.  
    Robin Brant, BBC Political Correspondent

    tweets: Did I just hear correctly, @Ed_Miliband accused PM of having a 'war on wales' ?

     
  81.  
    12:17: Leaders clash House of Commons Parliament

    More angry exchanges between the leaders. After David Cameron calls the Opposition "completely useless", Mr Milband says there are "99 days to kick out a prime minister who has broken all his promises on the NHS".

     
  82.  
    @iainmartin1 Iain Martin, political journalist

    Even by the standards of #PMQs this is dire.

     
  83.  
    @ShippersUnbound 12:16: Tim Shipman, Sunday Times political editor

    Tweets: Michael Gove doing a good impersonation of the Churchill dog, nodding judiciously as Dave speaks

     
  84.  
    @DavidJonesMP 12:15: David Jones, Conservative MP

    tweets: Remarkably, Miliband raises Welsh NHS; silly, silly.

     
  85.  
    @tombradby Tom Bradby, ITV News political editor

    Tweets: Ed is normally pretty good at PMQs, but he looks a bit flustered today. This issue over the word 'weaponise' is tricky.

     
  86.  
    12:14: Miliband v Cameron House of Commons Parliament

    David Cameron is now questioning Ed Miliband's motives about the NHS. "He told the political editor of the BBC he wants to weaponise the NHS, so I ask him again: get up there and withdraw." Miliband responds - "I'll tell him what my motive is: it's to rescue the National Health Service from this Tory government."

     
  87.  
    12:12: Picture: Ed Miliband asking question
    Ed Miliband in the Commons
     
  88.  
    12:13: House of Commons Parliament

    Now we're on to this morning's story about "major incidents" being declared by NHS trusts. Mr Cameron says the new guidance on when one can be declared was issued by the NHS in the West Midlands, "without any instruction" from ministers or the Department of Health.

     
  89.  
    12:10: Miliband v Cameron House of Commons Parliament

    Ed Miliband is asking about David Cameron's "bare knuckle fight" to preserve A&E and maternity units. The PM responds by returning to the Labour leader's comment - to BBC political editor Nick Robinson - about wanting to "weaponise" the NHS. He demands an apology, Mr Miliband says it is a "ridiculous smokescreen".

     
  90.  
    @iainjwatson Iain Watson, BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: No surprise that Ed Miliband goes on the #NHS consistently top of voters concerns according to polls

     
  91.  
    12:09: Picture: Ed Miliband House of Commons Parliament
    Ed Miliband
     
  92.  
    12:08: Cigarette packaging Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman has refused to say directly if David Cameron supports moves to bring it in The government has pledged to give MPs a vote on new regulations before the election. Asked if the PM was concerned about the prospect of a rebellion by some of his own MPs the spokesman said: "The right thing to do is to proceed as the government has set out for some considerable time."

     
  93.  
    12:06: Labour's Eds listen to first answer
    Ed Balls and Ed Miliband
     
  94.  
    12:06: NHS at PMQs House of Commons Parliament

    The NHS gets its first PMQs mention in question two, from Labour MP Lilian Greenwood who suggests the health service is not a priority for David Cameron. The PM says the government has invested in the NHS and attacks Labour's record in Wales.

     
  95.  
    @MartynExpress Martyn Brown, Daily Express political correspondent

    Tweets: Women on front bench - Tories 8 v Labour 8 #pmqs

     
  96.  
    12:05: Picture: Cameron takes first question
    David Cameron
     
  97.  
    12:04: Picture: Frank Field House of Commons Parliament
    Frank Field Labour MP Frank Field asks when the Chilcot inquiry report will be published
     
  98.  
    12:04: PMQs under way

    Labour MP Frank Field gets Prime Minister's Questions up and running, asking about delays to the Iraq War inquiry. David Cameron says he too is frustrated at the timing.

     
  99.  
    12:04: UKIP defector James Landale Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    James Landale says most voters won't be too bothered by the negative stories emerging about Amjad Bashir, the former UKIP MEP who has defected to the Tories. He says: "As ever with defections, they are never as clean as political parties would like. The problem for UKIP is that most voters are less aware of the detail that goes on underneath."

     
  100.  
    @nedsimons 12:03: Ned Simons, Huffington Post UK assistant political editor

    Tweets: Can't wait for Miliband and Cameron to shout NHS statistics at each other for ten minutes. #PMQs

     

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