The Crown Prosecution Service today announced that victimisation of older people due to their age or perceived frailty will be considered a “hate crime”, alongside racism and homophobia.
It launched a consultation paper designed to toughen the CPS’s approach in pursuing prosecutions against those who abuse or neglect older people, as well as muggers and con-artists who regard older people as an “easy target”. In such cases the element of victimisation based on ageism would be drawn to the attention of the court.
There is currently no statutory definition of a crime against an older person, and the paper is the CPS’s first policy statement on the issue. It already has policy statements on the other five equality strands – disability, race, gender, religion or belief and sexual orientation.
A Department of Health and Comic Relief published study in June estimated 342,000 older people were neglected or abused in their own home last year, but around 6% report abuse to the police.
At the launch of the paper, director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald said that feelings of being “unsafe or at risk” were detrimental to older people’s health and could lead to them being isolated.
This latest public policy statement means that the CPS will soon cover each of the six “equality strands”, including race, religion, disability, gender, sexuality and age. The consultation will run until 31 January 2008 and the finalised policy will take effect in March 2008.