Use anonymous hotline to tackle elder abuse urges PCC
Elder abuse has been thrown in the spot light in recent years – with investigations in to 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 of the age of 65.
Elder abuse is a problem in the UK. It can be physical, emotional, financial or a case of neglect; and it can happen anywhere – whether it’s the victim’s own home, a care home, a hospice or sheltered accommodation.
It’s an issue that we all want to see stamped out but not everyone feels comfortable reporting it – that could be because the abuser is a friend or relative or someone who should be in a position of trust. But we have been trying to break down the barriers and believe that anonymous reporting may be the key to encourage more to speak up.
In February this year Crimestoppers joined forces with Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston, to tackle the issue.
Together they launched a trial of the first ever anonymous reporting line for elder abuse 0800 032 7644. If it’s a success, they hope to see it rolled out across the country in the future.
The number was officially launched on February 26 at the Age Concern Day Centre in Chelmsford by Crimestoppers CEO Mark Hallas and Nick Alston.
Nick Alston, Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex, 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.“
Nick Hallas, CEO of Crimestoppers said: “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.”
He went on to say: “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.””
The line, which is being funded by Essex PCC, is manned by Crimestoppers call handlers, who pass on information to the relevant Safeguarding Adults teams. Information is also passed to the police if a crime is thought to have taken place.
To date they have received a number of pieces of information that have been passed on to the relevant authority.
The information has alleged physical abuse as well as financial, abuse and neglect. It also refers to incidents in a variety of locations – from the victim’s own home to care homes and sheltered housing.
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.”