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Changes needed to help older people report crime says age commissioner

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland Eddie Lynch (left) with Dr Kevin J Brown, lecturer in criminal law and criminal justice at Queen’s University Belfast, who conducted the research. Picture: Brendan Gallagher
Mairead Holland

A REPORT which aims to help older people report crime is being launched today by the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland.

Eddie Lynch is calling for 24 recommendations in the Crime and Justice Report.

He said: “Although older people are less likely to be victims of crime, crimes such as burglary, criminal damage, vehicle theft and violence without injury continue to have a lower outcome rate for older people than other age groups."

The research found a number of contributory factors for the lower outcome rates, including a reluctance to give evidence in court and a fear of reporting because the offender is known to them.

Older participants also revealed their concerns about the length of time a case can take to get to court.

The report is believed to be the first academic study in Northern Ireland to consult with older victims as well as professionals working in policing and criminal justice.

The commissioner added: “Being a victim of crime can be a traumatic experience for anyone, but there are particular factors that make older people more vulnerable to the effects of crime.

"Older people have an increased fear of crime, a higher rate of physical and mental impairment and disability, are more likely to live alone and often lack the strong support networks of younger age groups.

Some of the recommendations included pre-recorded cross-examination, reducing avoidable delays and research into the types and lengths of sentences imposed in cases of domestic burglary.

The research was co-authored by Dr Faith Gordon, lecturer in criminology at Monash University, Melbourne and Dr Kevin J Brown, lecturer in criminal law and criminal justice at Queen's University Belfast.

Dr Brown said: “This research has shown that older victims of crime find it more difficult to access justice in Northern Ireland."

 

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