NORTH Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey led a DUP call today for the Justice Minister to bring forward a plan to implement the Commissioner for Older People’s report which called for change in how older victims of crime experience the criminal justice system.
Speaking after proposing the motion in the Assembly, Mr Storey said: “There are currently over 430,000 older people in Northern Ireland and we must face up to the stark reality of crime against older people.
“Figures from the PSNI show that 6% of crime victims were over 65 and 80% of crimes recorded against older people related to theft and criminal damage whilst 16% related to violence against the person.
“The rate of crime against older people has remained consistent over the past decade despite a reduction in other forms of crime.
“Outcome rates also lag roughly 2% behind those for crimes against other age groups.
“Fraud and cybercrime statistics are not broken down by age, yet we know that many older people are vulnerable to criminals in these areas.
“The devil may well be in the details which are not available. There are issues of underreporting, a lack of dedicated provision for collecting evidence and barriers to witness testimony are pressures within the criminal justice system.
“The Commissioner’s report makes specific recommendations from the reintroduction of specific crime rate targets to a review of existing court infrastructure and the creation of specific older peoples policy guidance for those working within the PPS and CPS.
“This should be the first step in an ongoing process to ensure that older people can have confidence in the response of statutory agencies including the PSNI, PPS and the courts.
“The fear of crime is a huge problem for our older people and we must do everything we can to improve the experience of those who do unfortunately fall victim to criminals.
“With the return of a Minister to take this forward I would hope there will be no hesitation in endorsing and implementing this report in full and without delay.”