Law on ‘familial homicide’ hailed

A charity which has spent a year lobbying the government for
legislation to protect older people at risk of abuse has welcomed
moves to tighten the law.

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill includes the creation
of an offence of “familial homicide” for causing or allowing the
death of a child or vulnerable adult.

Action on Elder Abuse began campaigning for a new law last year
after the case of a 78-year-old woman who received more than 60
injuries, including razor blade cuts and cigarette burns. Family
members could not be prosecuted because the police were unable to
prove who carried out the abuse.

More than two-thirds of cases reported to the Action on Elder Abuse
helpline take place within domestic settings with 47 per cent
perpetrated by family members. However, these family members are
not the carers, but relatives who are only indirectly involved in
the provision of care.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: “The
public are aware of child abuse and the deaths that have occurred
as a consequence. But not so well known is the suffering of old and
frail people at the hands of abusers, many of whom are related to
them. This law will send a powerful message that society is ready
to protect everyone who is vulnerable.”

– Go to
for a special report on the bill.

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