The Tonight programme of 27.06.19 focused on the disturbing issue of those that rob from the elderly such as carers, friends or even members of their own family. This abuse is on the increase with 120,000 reported cases. The victims and their families say that it leaves them vulnerable and humiliated and with issues of how to trust others.
The programme started by looking at carers who steal money, jewelry and valuables. It looked at those caught out when secret CCTV had been installed, something many, in a survey, of the public would approve of despite the issue of privacy and dignity. A seller of surveillance equipment was interviewed and he considered such equipment was now commonly used by private individuals who had suspicions because it was so easy to install. The programme also raised the issue of when carers could be employed in positions of trust after convictions for theft, at present after 5 years. Many said in the survey that someone with a conviction for theft should never be employed as a carer, and some that said no one should be employed as a carer with any convictions at all.
The programme moved onto family and close friends who misuse their trust to steal, sometimes large amounts of money, even money from selling the persons house from under their feet! It was highlighted banks can be slow to spot this and, if the appropriate forms have been used, not even able to stop it. Also police can be slow to intervene or investigate giving it a low priority. It was generally considered that a Lasting Power of Attorney was a good idea though even this could be abused by unscrupulous family members. There were fears of children making use of “the bank of mum and dad” before the person had actually died.
A member of Action on Elderly Abuse felt this problem of stealing from elderly people of all types should be re-classed as a hate crime in order that the sentences could be increased and deter offenders.
I feel this programme was well presented and well researched, looking at the issue from a great many angles. I felt that the problem could be expanded to include the disabled and other vulnerable groups in our society who are also regularly taken advantage of. Perhaps with Lasting Powers of Attorney there could be a system of regular independent audits? Or perhaps banks and institutions could be informed if someone is vulnerable and they could “Red Flag” unusual, out of character, spending/withdrawals/selling.
If you would like to see highlights of this interesting Tonight edition then go to the youtube link here