Adult protection should be taken as seriously as child protection
This is just one of many concerns that Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne, will raise at Action on Elder Abuse’s conference in London today (15 June), part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Commenting on the abuse of the elderly, Mrs Bourne said: “Fraud against an older person is a calculated and deliberate crime. I want adult protection to be taken as seriously as child protection but I fear society has a long way to go before Elder Abuse is considered as despicable and damaging as child abuse.
“We need tougher legislation and appropriate sanctions for deterrence and punishment for those who abuse our elderly as well as smarter awareness campaigns with clearer prevention messages.
“With an increasingly ageing population, Sussex has many people living in care homes or with relatives and even more living alone.
“It has been estimated there could be as many as 13,000 cases of elder abuse in our county (if Sussex matches national trends) and we know that, as people get older, their chances of being abused increase. This is why I have made tackling Elder Abuse and protecting our most vulnerable a key priority for my second term as PCC.
“Last summer, over a period of three months, high risk victims in Sussex lost an average of £23,000 each – equivalent to approximately one year in a care home. One resident lost nearly half a million pounds. These are real people being targeted every day. It has to stop. This is why I support the case for making Elder Abuse an aggravated offence in line with racially or religiously motivated offences. I know this may not sit well with some police chiefs who feel that we don’t need any more laws to police, but we do need new laws to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities – often to protect them from the very people charged with their care or from their own families.
“For too long, we have turned our face away from the unpalatable treatment of older people. By doing so we are also refusing to look our future selves in the mirror.”