Belfast Telegraph

Elderly crime victims need confidence in court system, claims report

Commissioner: Eddie Lynch
Commissioner: Eddie Lynch
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The Commissioner for Older People has called for major changes in the way the criminal justice system deals with victims of elderly crime.

Eddie Lynch will launch the Crime and Justice Report at Queen's University today.

After consultations with elderly victims and professionals working in policing and criminal justice, the report outlines a series of recommendations to the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service, Department of Justice and the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service on how the system can better serve the elderly.

"Although older people are less likely to be victims of crime there continues to be a lower outcome rate for older people than other age groups," said Mr Lynch.

"The purpose of this study was not only to better understand why this is the case, but also to understand older people's experience of crime in order to determine where improvements could be made."

The research found a number of factors contributing to lower crime outcome rates for older people, including a reluctance to give evidence in court and a fear of reporting because the offender is known to them or knows where they live.

It also found a tendency to delay reporting certain types of crime due to a delayed realisation that they had been a victim or even because they felt too embarrassed to report it.

The study also revealed concerns about the length of time a case can take to get to court with delays causing particular consequences for older people, who are more likely to have issues with memory recall and failing physical health.

"Being a victim of crime can be a traumatic experience, but there are particular factors that make older people more vulnerable," said Mr Lynch. "It's crucial they have confidence in the statutory agencies, including the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service and the courts. Older people must feel fully supported and safe throughout the criminal justice process."

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