Monday, 17 January 2011

Britain is a country and no country for more and more old men who break the law

Back in November last year, 'The Observer' Newspaper reported : Pensioner crime wave marks rise of the 'Saga lout'. Arrests of pensioners are soaring as an influx of elderly inmates creates new problems for prisons.

It was being dubbed the 'grey crime wave" or the rise of the 'Saga lout' after 'SAGA', the name of the Insurance Company specialising in policies for the elderly. Apparently, new statistics reveal that ever higher numbers of pensioners are being arrested and ending up in Britain's jails.

The following points were made, that :

* the prison system is struggling to cope with the demands of its own ageing population of lifers and long-term inmates and struggling to cope with a new wave of elderly crooks.

* experts are divided over whether or not the growing trend is due to, either people on low pensions turning to crime through necessity, or simply a tougher attitude by the courts to the elderly in the dock.

* although, while the number of crimes committed by the over-65 age group remains low as a percentage of all crime, the new statistics supplied by police forces show rises of between 15% and 25% in the numbers of pensioners being arrested.

* over 60's are the fastest-growing section of the prison population with almost 2,500 people in this age group in British prisons, making up 3% of the total, up from 2% in 2003.

* Kingston Prison in Portsmouth has become the first in the country to provide a special 'elderly wing' with stair lifts and other adaptations.

Bill Tupman, a criminologist at Exeter University, has said that :

* there is now a far harsher attitude towards the elderly from police and courts.
"The trend is definitely on the up, in contrast to what you'd expect with overall crime going down".

* changes in the law meant that police and courts were now "less likely to take pity on poor old grandad in the dock". Also "Now, with financial crime, the money and assets can be recovered, so we are far less likely to go easy on the elderly when we can take their cash and their car if we get a conviction,"

Harry Fletcher of Napo, the 'Probation Officers' Union', has said that :

* the most significant worry was that this category of inmates was last in the queue for support at a time of crippling cutbacks. "There is a total absence of strategy for the ageing criminal population. It's steadily going up and we're heading for a logjam of older people."


The "grey crime" trend appears to be an international one. In the Netherlands, there was a startlingly high percentage of over-60s appearing in court who had 'undiagnosed dementia'. Japan, France and Israel have all commissioned research into the rise of the pensioner-criminal.


A little bit of humour with an excerpt from the comedy series 'Porridge' starring the late Ronnie Barker as Fletcher and Davis Jason as the old prisoner, Blanco :

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