World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
June marks National Scams Awareness Month and it is fitting, especially given the demographic of areas in Sussex, that it also coincides with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
As Principal Lead of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners, Police Technology and Digital Portfolio, Katy Bourne is determined to tackle exploitation online to protect people, particularly our most vulnerable.
“In counties like Sussex, it is the 65+ age group that have proved most vulnerable to online scams as they may have substantial savings and can often be more trusting. We also know that people can feel embarrassed if they’re the victim of fraud and they would sometimes rather view it as their own mistake instead of reporting it.
“The operational response from Sussex Police to tackle cyber-enabled crime has been excellent, developing Operation Signature and introducing a Banking Protocol to help protect and support those most at risk of fraud locally, especially our older residents.
“Banking staff are now trained to spot signs that a customer may be withdrawing cash to give to a scammer and, since its introduction in June 2017, a total of 216 calls have been received from the banks, 168 crimes recorded, 11 arrests made and over £1 million of financial loss to victims has been prevented.
“Sussex produces some of the best results nationally by taking positive action in fraud reporting, arresting suspects and safeguarding the victims.
Former Sussex resident Paul Greenwood, District Attorney for San Diego and Lead Prosecutor of Elder Abuse cases, comments: "Having lived in Sussex for many years, and with my elderly mother living there today, I am delighted to see the steps that my home county has taken to increase awareness and strengthen prevention methods to combat elder abuse.
“For the past 22 years I have devoted my career in San Diego, California to prosecuting crimes committed against older adults. Elder abuse is not just an American problem; it is now a global crisis impacting the lives of many elderly victims. The UK needs to respond to this escalating crime and replicate the collaborative efforts of Sussex Police, the banking industry and the leadership of Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne in protecting older people from exploitation.”
In December 2016, Mrs Bourne also funded two case workers through Victim Support to work with vulnerable victims who have been systematically targeted by criminals.
“In the last sixteen months, the two case workers have worked on an average of 57 cases per month and spent 428 hours supporting people face-to-face through 342 visits, freeing up time that would otherwise have been spent by officers or PCSOs.
“They also have made 610 practical solutions to victims, from having ‘phone call blocker technology installed to changing bank cards or providing literature on fraud and offered information on clubs or courses to tackle loneliness.
“It's particularly heartening that, of the 914 clients the case workers supported in the last 16 months, only 27 have been referred back to them. This shows that, in Sussex, we now have a process for recognising that victims of fraud are victims of crime and to provide preventative measures to support and protect them being targeted in the future.”
Notes for editors
Vulnerable Fraud Caseworkers have been accepting medium and high risk vulnerable victims of fraud referrals from Operation Signature since December 2016.
In 16 months of taking referrals:
- 405 separate referrals
- Two caseworkers, working on average of 57 cases per month
- Deployed over 610 practical solutions (such as call blockers, information about courses/clubs, debt advice, scam literature)
- Made 207 contacts with external agencies (such as Adult Social Care, mental health, housing, Steps)
- Only 27 repeat victims have come back through
- Spent 428 hours supporting face to face through 342 visits
- Made 46 official safeguarding referrals (note, some were already being safeguarded)
- 993 telephone calls made to victims
Our website www.safespacesussex.org.uk provides direct access to help and support for victims and witnesses of crime in Sussex. The site was developed by the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex and provides an online directory of local specialist support services
For more information on Sussex Police’s Operation Signature see https://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/fraud/operation-signature/
If you are a victim of crime you can receive emotional and practical help through see Victim Support https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/help-and-support/get-help/support-near-you/south-east/sussex