Belfast Telegraph

We must do better to curb attacks on elderly, says PSNI

By Adrian Rutherford

A senior police officer has admitted that more needs to be done to hunt down thugs who prey on our elderly.

Superintendent Brian Kee said that people would be “shocked and horrified” by revelations that nearly 3,000 pensioners were victims of burglaries and robberies in the last two years.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph reported how 2,977 offences against people aged 65 and over had been recorded between January 2010 and February this year.

Just 170 of these cases — that is one in 18 — resulted in someone being charged.

Among five incidents highlighted by this newspaper was the story of Jimmy Murtagh (83), who was struck by an iron bar as he tried to protect his 81-year-old brother Patsy from a masked gang.

Last November, robbers also broke into the home of 80-year-old Jim Calvert, who suffers from dementia, and tied him up.

Speaking on the Stephen Nolan Show yesterday, Supt Kee said he understood people’s anger.

“We will all be shocked and horrified by the five cases outlined in the Belfast Telegraph today,” he said.

He admitted that a clearance rate of just one in every 18 of burglaries or robberies against older people wasn’t acceptable.

“Of course we need to do better and we are doing better,” he added. “For example, during February, in connection with (all) burglary offences we made 194 arrests and, of those, 166 people were charged.”

Supt Kee said recorded burglaries are falling year-on-year, and are at the lowest level for 10 years.

“We are arresting people daily and putting them before the courts, but of course our performance can get better,” he added.

Marie Matthews, from the Greater Belfast Forum For Elderly People, described the statistics as “appalling”.

She added that elderly people had little confidence in the PSNI’s ability to track down people who target pensioners. “They don’t seem to have a great success in that field at all,” she said.

Policing Board member Conall McDevitt said that he would raise the issue with Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

He warned that the PSNI must do more for the public to have confidence in their ability to solve crimes against the elderly.

“These are shocking figures which present a real challenge to the PSNI to increase people’s confidence in their ability to successfully deal with crimes against the elderly,” he said.

Case study

‘I’m still afraid to open my door’

Marth Holmes (91) knows all too well the after-effects of a robbery at your home.

Thieves targeted her home three times in just one year.

No one has been apprehended following the robberies.

She said: “To this present day I still have the fear of opening the door and finding things are not right and that’s a long time now.

“They have no respect for persons of my age.”

Martha was not at home when the robbers struck.

However, she did lose items of sentimental value.

Sadly, her husband Billy’s war medals were stolen.

She said: “I had things belonging to my parents which could never be replaced.

“Also different things my husband had brought back from the war.”

It is sad, she said, that no-one has been caught.

She added: “If you know someone was punished for what they’ve done, at least you have the satisfaction of knowing something happened.”

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