Crimes against older people in NI “half as likely to be solved”

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Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
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Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland is set to use its annual conference to call on politicians, practitioners, and policymakers to commit to listening to the voices of abused older people.

Older people are only half as likely as younger victims to have crimes committed against them solved by police, research by Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland has found.

 

 

The charity examined Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) data from 2010-2017 and found that just 12% of crimes against people aged 65 or over were “cleared”, compared to 17.5% for victims in younger age groups.

This means older people were 46% less likely to see crimes against them solved.

It said the findings were a “wake-up call” about the scale of criminality against older people and called on government, the police and courts to take the problem more seriously.

 

 

Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland is holding its annual conference in Newtownabbey on Thursday (February 28th), which will feature contributions from agencies including the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, High Court (Care and Protection), and Queen’s University, as well as from a family member of an older person who suffered serious financial abuse.

Professor John Williams from Aberystwyth University will provide a keynote address on the need for policy and law makers in Northern Ireland to consider the protection of older people from abuse in law.

Examining the PSNI data for the years 2010/11 to 2016/17, the charity found that of 33,022 people aged 65 or over who were victims of crime, only 3,985 cases were “cleared” – just over 12%.

Looking across nine major crime categories, only three showed a higher clearance rate for older victims (violence with injury incl. homicide; robbery; and ‘other theft offences’).

In contrast, six categories – including the two with the highest number of older victims (criminal damage and burglary, affecting a combined total of 14,083 victims) and sexual offences – had a lower clear up rate for older victims than younger ones.

 

 

The report notes that while clearance rates for victims over 65 have been improving in recent years, over 88% of criminal offences against older victims have gone uncleared since 2010/11.

Veronica Gray, Director of AEA Northern Ireland, said, “Older people are telling us that they are not being listened to – that they feel powerless in the face of abusers, and that they don’t know who to turn to for help.

“This is borne out in our research into clearance rates, which shows that victims of crime over the age of 65 are far less likely to have their cases solved by the PSNI. This disparity should serve as a wake-up call to anyone concerned about the welfare of older people in Northern Ireland.

 

 

She added, “At a time when we’re seeing the possibility of crimes against older people being classed as aggravated offences in England, Wales and Scotland, it is critical that we offer older people in Northern Ireland the same protections. Older people must not continue to be collateral damage from our legislative deadlock.”


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