Today (Tuesday 8th March) the Sussex Elders’ Commission, are presenting the findings of their year-long consultation at a launch event in Parliament.
Their report highlights concerns including the potential scale of Elder Abuse, including scams, cyber crime and financial coercion.
The Sussex Elders’ Commission was established by the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to enable older residents to support, challenge and inform the work of the PCC’s Office and Sussex Police.
The model follows the success of the Sussex Youth Commission which led to series of recommendations which are being currently explored with a dedicated team of Sussex Police officers.
The keynote speaker will be Paul Greenwood, Deputy District Attorney in San Diego, California, an experienced prosecutor and a leading authority on Elder Abuse. He will be joined by Action on Elder Abuse, Age UK representatives, senior police officers and partners from voluntary and statutory agencies.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said:
I asked older people in Sussex to help me set up an Elders’ Commission to build on the successful model of our award-winning Sussex Youth Commission which engaged with 4000 young people to inform, support and challenge my work and local policing priorities.
Over the last year, my Elders’ Commission members aged 60-85, have talked to thousands of Sussex residents and captured nearly 6,200 concerns. Alarmingly they have highlighted concerns about the potential scale of Elder Abuse that is either hidden or under-reported, including scams, cyber crime and financial coercion.
Listen to Katy Bourne taking about the work of the Elder’s Commission:
Jean Holmwood, from Heathfield, who was the victim of a scam in 2015, said:
My age group grew up seeing their local officers out patrolling the streets…through my work with the SEC I have been able to explain to hundreds of our more senior Sussex residents how technology is enabling officers to work more efficiently and deal with the change in crime types, like for example, online scams, which I unfortunately fell victim to last year.
The event was hosted by Wealden MP Nus Ghani:
I was delighted to welcome members of the Sussex Elders’ Commission to Parliament, where they outlined the findings of their year-long consultation. East Sussex has one of the oldest populations in the country, so working closely with elderly people is key to providing effective policing and community support, from individuals and organisations of all types. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Elderly People, I am proud to add my support to the Commission’s work. I will be reflecting on its conclusions carefully, and I congratulate and thank all who have made it possible.
I am very proud of the achievements of this dedicated group of community-minded volunteers. They have tapped into their networks and social groups to lift the lid on older citizens’ concerns about crime and revealed that some people are being exploited and intimidated simply because their age and isolation makes them more vulnerable. They have a clear message that adult protection needs to be taken as seriously as child protection.
SEC members have an extensive and influential network of contacts at many different levels, and they have the capacity and will to help inform thousands of older people to avoid scams, stay safe online and have the confidence to report abuse.
Some of the recommendations in their report can be achieved in Sussex by collaboration and information sharing between partners, such as Action on Elder Abuse, Age UK East Sussex, Trading Standards, the Post Office and Neighbourhood Watch.
Some recommendations are more challenging and will undoubtedly require discussion at a national level with police, financial institutions and other statutory bodies.
The 30 members of the Sussex Elders’ Commission have invested a year of their time to conduct this extensive person to-person survey. I think we owe it to all those senior citizens who talked to us to look at their concerns and act on them where we can.