Monday, 22 October 2018

Britain is a country about to consider whether offences against old men and women should finally be recognised as hate crimes

At the moment 'hate crimes' in Britain are defined as offences motivated by prejudice against someone's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

The Daily Express’s 'Respect For The Elderly' Campaign has been calling for offences against old men and women in Britain to be made 'hate crimes'. At the moment around 1 million older people are victims of physical, financial, psychological and sexual abuse each year, yet criminal convictions are rare and sentences far too lenient. Age is not a strand of hate crime under current legislation and prosecutors say they are unable to apply for tougher sentences as a result.

In fact, of the one million cases of abuse against the elderly, only 0.3% result in successful criminal convictions. In 2016-17, there was a decrease in police referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service for crimes against older people compared to a year earlier, They were down from 3,568 to 3,467 and resulted in 2,783 suspects being charged.

According to a report in the 'Express', in 2007 twenty-six police forces in England and Wales recorded 7,379 violent assaults on over-65-year-olds. In 2016 the attacks rose to 20,921 and in 2017 they rose again to 26,474 : an increase of 258% on the figures recorded 10 years earlier.

Last week, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, asked the Law Commission to investigate whether ageism should be recognised as a hate crime in similar manner as offences motivated by hate based on race, sexual orientation, religion or disability. He said : “Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive of the charity 'Action on Elder Abuse', said : "For far too long we have seen older people routinely neglected and abused across the UK with no end in sight. The systems designed to protect seem incapable of doing so and the law fails to deliver justice for the victims."

Gary said : “We are demanding legislation to make the targeting of older people a hate crime, but what we have got is something that won’t act as a deterrent and doesn’t fundamentally change anything. There have been some horrendous examples of people being targeted because of their age. What we need is a law that sends a strong message saying if you prey on the elderly this will be the consequence, but we haven’t got that. Lawmakers have missed a trick and I do wonder what side the Government is on.”

He also said that Britain "now has an opportunity to join other countries including the US, Japan and Israel by making elder abuse a crime, with the sorts of punishments that the public expects. We must make it clear that we as a society will not tolerate these cowardly acts against some of the most vulnerable people in our community.” 

The question remains  : Whether labelling crimes against old men and women as 'hate crimes' really act as a deterrent to the criminals who abuse and prey on them ? 

No comments:

Post a Comment