DUP North Antrim MLA and member of the NI Policing Board Mervyn Storey has voiced alarm at official PSNI statistics which confirm that there were an additional 230 violent and sexual crimes committed against people aged over 60 in Northern Ireland in 2018/19.
Commenting on the figures, which highlight that the number of recorded offences in this category has risen year-on-year since 2015, Mr Storey said: ‘‘Older people play a vital and vibrant role in families and communities right across Northern Ireland and they have the right to feel safe in our society. These statistics are truly shocking. In 2018/19 there were 1,940 violent and sexual crimes recorded against over 60s, a rise from just over 1,700 the previous year.
Behind each of these offences is an older person who has suffered unjustifiable physical and psychological harm from being brutally attacked or harassed. In 2020 in Northern Ireland this is simply not acceptable.
“There are serious questions to be asked of the PSNI and the wider justice system as to how, when crime levels and outcomes for traditional forms of crime such as burglary have steadily declined in recent years, violence including sexual crimes against the elderly have continued to rise.
“In 2018/19 a suspect was identified in only 10% of these cases and well over a third of victims did not support police action. We have to wonder why this can be the case. It is wrong that victims aged over 60 do not have confidence in the PSNI and courts to identify their attackers and put them behind bars. We need to see a victim-centred approach to these investigations.
“Moving forward the PSNI and DoJ must finally get tough with these criminals who prey on the most vulnerable. There should be a clear message – both in terms of policing activity and sentences handed down – that if you attack or harass an older person you will be held accountable and go to prison for a very long time. The public demand this and we owe it to our elderly friends, family and neighbours.’’