Comment on 'elder abuse' data

Date: 
Wednesday, 15 June, 2016

Our director, Richard Garside, is quoted in The Times today (subscription required), commenting on new data on the abuse of elderly people, which has been uncovered by Action on Elder Abuse.

The data shows that of 28,000 adult protection cases involving elderly people investigated by the police, 3,317 were considered for possible prosecution.

Elder abuse, Richard is quoted as saying in the article, is a 'broad-brush term', covering a range of problems, from systematic abuse and serious neglect at one end, to opportunistic petty theft at the other.

Speaking today, Richard added:

'It is likely that many elderly people are subjected to, or are at risk of, physical and emotional violence, theft and other abuses. Much of this abuse will take place in private and will be perpetrated by those charged with their care.

'This is a serious and neglected problem that requires an equally serious set of responses, calibrated to the nature of the abuse. Tackling systematic, long-term neglect, for instance, requires a qualitatively different response to what is required to deal with opportunistic theft.

'Applying a broad-brush term, like "elder abuse", to such a diverse range of problems, gets in the way of clear thinking over possible solutions.

'Tackling the abuse of elderly people requires the kind of whole system thinking that is at the heart of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies' "Justice Matters" programme. 

'We set up Justice Matters to inspire long-term systemic social change, based on the need to rethink the entire configuration of policy and practice so that many current criminal justice responses are not required at all.

'Prevention is the key and requires the active involvement of local authorities, social service departments, education and health bodies, as well as relatives, friends and neighbours. 

'Policing and prosecution will play a very small role in tackling this range of problems, precisely because so much of it never comes to light.'