PCC funds and launches first ever elder abuse hotline
AN anonymous hotline for the reporting elder abuse – which is the first ever of its kind – has been funded and launched by Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston.
Mr Alston has joined forces with the independent charity Crimestoppers and the Safeguarding Adults Boards of Essex, Thurrock and Southend to trial the hotline for nine-months.
The issue is one which has caused a public outcry in recent years – with investigations into elder care revealing shocking abuses of trust.
In 2013/14 there were 104,050 cases nationally in which concern was raised about the abuse of an adult – 63 per cent of these involved victims over the age of 65.*
In Essex there were 1497 cases which involved individuals over the age of 65.
Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or general neglect and it can happen anywhere – in a care home, hospital or the victim’s own home.
Now Mr Alston, with the help of Crimestoppers and the Essex PCC and Safeguarding Adults Boards from Essex, Thurrock and Southend, are taking action to help stamp it out across the whole of Essex with the new phone line – 0800 032 7644 – which is the first ever to allow anonymous reporting.
The PCC will launch the phoneline on Wednesday February 26 with the support of TV presenter Fiona Phillips at the Age Concern Day Centre in Chelmsford.
Mr Alston said: “Over the last couple of years, both locally and nationally, there have been a number of disturbing cases of abuse in care homes.
“However the abuse of elderly people is not just confined to care homes. It also, shockingly, can occur within the home. In many cases the perpetrators are known to the victims, and may be carers and relatives, making the reporting of this crime extremely difficult for those suffering the abuse or who may fear it is going on.
“Elder abuse – like child abuse and online grooming – is one of the hidden harms plaguing our communities.
“I feel passionately that we must start to uncover these hidden harms and this anonymous phone line is just one way both to draw attention to the problem and more importantly to start to offer a solution to elder abuse.
“It’s important that elderly victims or people that know or suspect that elder abuse may be occurring feel they have somewhere to turn to report this information if they feel unable to go to police.”
Fiona Phillips, who is a staunch campaigner for the rights of the elderly, said: “Elder abuse is an extremely serious problem which can’t be ignored.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that our elderly communities are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
“That is why I am supporting this new reporting line. Hopefully it will encourage more people to speak up and take action if they know that something is wrong.”
The phone line will be trialled for nine months in Essex, Thurrock and Southend, and could potentially be rolled out across the UK if it’s deemed a success.
Information can also be passed anonymously through an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org/essex-elder-abuse
Mark Hallas, CEO of Crimestoppers, added: “We all have a duty to protect our elderly community and this should involve speaking out if there is any suspicion that they are suffering abuse.
“It’s not always easy to report an issue like this – especially if the perpetrators are known to the victims. This is why an independent reporting line that people can call safely, securely and anonymously is so important.”
The line, which is being funded by Essex PCC, will be manned by Crimestoppers call handlers, who will pass on information to the relevant Safeguarding Adults Board. Information will also be passed to the police if a crime is thought to have taken place.
Simon Hart, Independent Chair of the Essex Safeguarding Adult Board said: “Elderly Abuse is a concern in the UK. It is a key priority of the Board that people are able to access advice and support when they need it especially in times of crisis.”
Ian Gilbert, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Community Development, said: “We must do all we can to protect our most vulnerable residents from any risk of harm, so we welcome this extra dedicated way to help people report any wrongdoing or abuse.”
Phil Smith, Thurrock Council’s Cabinet member for Public Protection, said: “Unfortunately, the abuse of the elderly is more common than you might think, and over the years there’s been a disturbing rise in cases. It is too easy to overlook the vulnerable, so I am happy to see we are taking action with this trial in Thurrock.”
For more information about the reporting line, visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/essex-elder-abuse or follow the campaign on Twitter with #SpeakUp