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Why we need to criminalise Elder Abuse:

The number of older people in our population is set to rise significantly, to around 19m in just over 30 years, with an increasing number of ‘very’ old people. The 2007 UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People identified that 8.6% of older people living in the community experience elder abuse (suggesting 1.6m victims by 2050, unless we have a significant impact on what is happening).  This is in addition to the scandalous experiences of older people in hospitals and care homes, which appear to continue despite all the rhetorical commitments to change and improvement.

This needs to be considered in the context of under-reporting of elder abuse; AEA estimates no more than 1:10 cases reach the attention of adult protection. This is despite the fact that older people represent a growing percentage of those referrals, (In England, from 61% five years ago to 64% on 2014/15).

Key points:

  1. Victims of elder abuse are often more vulnerable than others – they are often in no position to take action to defend themselves
  2. The impact of abuse on older people is often greater than the impact on younger victims
  3. Existing laws to protect older people from abuse and prosecute perpetrators are not strong enough
  4. Older people are less likely to report abuse as it is primarily committed by family members (resulting in lower prosecution rates)
  5. The current Criminal Justice System is not fit for purpose
  6. Elder abuse is rarely discussed – criminalisation would increase public awareness and change perceptions of justice
  7. Criminalisation of elder abuse would provide additional statutory protections to older people
  8. Abuse in care settings is not being adequately dealt with
  9. Elder abuse is not given the same political attention as child abuse