Age Concern Scotland believes that older people should be able to live safely and securely in their own homes and community without fear of crime or harassment.
Age Concern Scotland is a key partner in the Safer Scotland Campaign, which involves the Scottish Executive, all Scottish police forces and other relevant organisations in Scotland.
Although older people are less likely to become victims of crime than younger people, the fear of crime can have an adverse effect on their health and well-being. Fear may lead to isolation and self-restriction, and prevent older people from living active and fulfilling lives, engaged with their local communities. The manner in which the media report crimes against older people may reinforce older people’s negative self-perception of vulnerability and risk, and increase fears.
If older people do fall victim to crime, the consequences can be more debilitating and the effect more traumatic. Age Concern Scotland believes that older victims of crime should have access to relevant and effective support systems where they live.
Though violent crime is rare, there is evidence that some older people are specific targets for other criminals, such as bogus callers, who take advantage of frailty or isolation. For example, the average age of victims of distraction theft in England and Wales is 81, but there is considerable under-reporting of this crime among older people, perhaps through embarrassment. (British Crime Survey.Home Office, 2001.)
It is estimated that between 7% and 10% of older people are victims of some form of abuse, with 40% suffering from more than one kind of abuse. The Age Concern Scotland Elder Abuse Project seeks to reduce the level of abuse of older people and to support those who are abused.
Safety and security
Security at home and in the neighbourhood plays a key role in the well being of older people. Age Concern Scotland maintains that older people and their organisations should be effectively consulted and involved in crime prevention strategies.
As a practical measure, Age Concern Scotland Handyperson Services provide assistance with small tasks to people over the age of 60 living within their service areas: tasks such as changing curtains or fitting a new curtain rail, changing light bulbs or smoke alarm batteries.