Police bid to help stop domestic abuse of the elderly
West Yorkshire Police are launching a new campaign to encourage older victims of domestic abuse to realise that they are being abused and to report the abuse.
Domestic abuse can take various different forms. Many people assume that it is only when someone is physically assaulted by a partner, and whilst this is one of the most common types of domestic abuse, there are others, such as controlling and coercive behaviour. This can include manipulation, intimidation, sexual coercion and psychological abuse.
The new campaign is part of the 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Abuse and will particularly focus on the financial abuse of older people.
One example of this type of crime is when a younger member of the family controls the older victim into giving them money.
Warning signs can include a younger relative who only ever visits on pension day, and always requests money. This can happen in a persuasive way, or it could be that they are threatening or violent towards the older person.
In the 12 months up to September 2020 there were 2,189 domestic incidents involving a victim over the age of 65.
Domestic incidents involving theft amounted to 8% in the over 65s and the most common relationship for incidents involving over 65s was sons at 32%.
Sadly a lot of older people are fully aware of what is happening to them, but they are reluctant to report to the police because the offender is their family, or in a lot of cases it is simply because they are lonely and think that the relative will stop visiting if they don’t give them money.
Chief Superintendent Joanne Morgan Head of Safeguarding at West Yorkshire Police said: “Protecting vulnerable people is a top priority for West Yorkshire Police and we are committed to tackling domestic abuse in all its forms and keeping people safe from harm.
“Anyone can be a victim or offender of domestic abuse – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Older people can be a victim from their child, grandchild, partner, husband or wife.
“The misconception is that domestic abuse has to be physical. This simply isn’t the case, there are people living with all kinds of abusive behaviour from controlling behaviour to financial abuse.
‘We know that there’s challenges around victims being reluctant to report members of their family to the Police.
"We have dedicated multi-agency safeguarding specialists across all our districts whose primary objective is protecting people from harm and keeping them safe. If you do not want to speak to police, there are other agencies who can offer you support.
“Our number one priority in all cases of abuse is protecting the victim and any other people that could be vulnerable to abuse and taking steps to keep them safe.”
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, is also the national Association of Police & Crime Commissioner’s (APCC) lead for tackling Serious Violence and said: “This campaign really symbolises the principles which sit at the very heart of my Police and Crime Plan, protecting the most vulnerable within our communities.
“It will help challenge many of the societal assumptions or misconceptions that are often made around domestic abuse, whilst increasing awareness of how this crime can manifest itself, irrespective of gender or age.
“The ongoing COVID pandemic brings this type of offence into sharper focus, particularly as such scenarios have increased the feeling of isolation for many, especially among older age groups.
“Given its significance, the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is providing support towards the campaign and will help to keep people safe and feeling safe.
“I hope it will enable people to recognise if they have been a victim of this type of abuse and crime, encouraging more to report it or seek help through victim services or the police.”
For anyone looking to find out more, details are available on the force website: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/elderabuse