MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO SUPPORT OLDER VICTIMS OF CRIME
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, has published a further report examining the poor experiences of older victims of crime.
‘A Different Crime: Offending Against Older People’, is a follow up report to the ‘Commissioner’s Crime and Justice: The Experience of Older People in Northern Ireland’ which was published in May 2019.
The new report once again consulted with older victims of crime, as well as professionals working in the justice system. It gives an in-depth analysis into older people’s experiences as they pass through the criminal justice system, compared to the findings four years ago.
The research suggests that several of the contributory factors for the poor experiences reported by older people, which were highlighted in the Commissioner’s first crime report, remain. These include limited adjusted services for older victims and a fear of reporting because the offender is known to them.
The Commissioner for Older People is now calling for justice agencies to monitor the experiences of older victims more effectively and to improve investigation and prosecution outcomes.
Commenting on the launch of the report, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said:
“Although statistics show older people are less likely to be victims of crime, we found crimes such as violence without injury, criminal damage and harassment continue to have a lower outcome rate for older people than for most or all other age groups.”
“I’m disappointed that four years on, we are still seeing evidence that older people are being served less effectively by justice agencies than other sections of society."
Findings of the study also revealed older victims emphasised a sense of being left to navigate the justice system by themselves, with one older participant stating: “It has broken my heart and confidence.”
The report also considers under-reporting of crimes perpetrated against older people. This research, especially the insights offered by professionals working with older victims, suggests there may be some crimes which are simply not reported and therefore, are not represented in official figures, suggesting a strong case for better institutional understanding of older victims of crime.
Geraldine Hanna, appointed as Commissioner Designate for Victims of Crime in June 2022, welcomes the launch of the report, she said:
“The report highlights the lack of victim data and the difficulty in tracking the experience of older victims through the justice process. The system must improve its ability to capture the justice journey of older victims and the reasons why they may choose to withdraw from the criminal justice process.
“This is an area I will focus on during my term to increase transparency and ensure better outcomes for victims.”
Eddie Lynch concluded:
“It is crucial that older people have confidence in the response of the statutory agencies.
I look forward to working in partnership with Commissioner Designate for Victims of Crime and other relevant authorities on these findings, to ensure older people feel fully supported and safe throughout the criminal justice process.
”The Commissioners full report can be read here: https://www.copni.org/media/1899/a-different-crime-2023-crime-report.pdf