CPS response to consultation exercise for the Crimes against the older person policy
The CPS issued a draft public policy statement, Crimes against the older person for a three month public consultation in October 2007. The consultation period ended on 31 January. The CPS received 41 responses from a range of sources including CPS staff, individuals, safeguarding adult partnerships, police, support services and care standards inspectorates (see Annex A for list of respondents). CPS also held two focus groups, one involving 12 older people mainly from the London area and a second involving 11 older people from Black and minority ethnic communities from around the country.
The development of the draft policy was supported by a steering group (see annex for details of members of the steering group).
This paper identifies some issues that came out in the consultation exercises and the CPS response to them.
The policy was welcomed. Its clarity and comprehensiveness were commended.
Some respondents emphasised the point that older people are not vulnerable per se and queried the need for a separate policy for older people.
This Crimes against the older person policy statement and guidance for prosecutors makes explicit the CPS position on how it will handle cases involving these types of crimes and tackles some of the very complex associated issues. By publishing and implementing this policy and guidance, the CPS is fulfilling a key commitment set out in its Single Equality Scheme in relation to age equality. Furthermore, while section one and two set out the age related factors that provide the context for crimes against older people, the feedback led to further revisions to ensure that these points are more clearly set out.
Many respondents pointed out that guidance is needed in cases where an older person may not have the capacity (as set out by the Mental Capacity Act 2005) to make a decision, for example to give evidence as a witness or report a crime. It was suggested that guidance which relates the principles of the Mental Capacity Act with the issues the CPS is concerned with (e.g.- assessing witnesses' capacity to give evidence, importance of assessing need and commissioning an intermediary or other special measures etc, use of advocates or 'IMCAs' as they are known under the Act) is important.
A separate section dealing with 'victims with fluctuating capacity' was added, addressing these points. The guidance for prosecutors was also amended accordingly.
Respondents stated that the policy needs to set out how it fits in with the wider safeguarding agenda (as set out by No Secrets, joint Department of Health and Home Office guidance on the protection of adults from abuse and In Safe Hands published by the Welsh Assembly), and the local safeguarding structures that may be in place locally.
A section relating to the multi agency context of crimes against the older person was added to the policy.
Respondents pointed out that while section 5 relates to the role of the police, there was no dedicated question about this section in the consultation paper. Issues about monitoring as well as police specific issues were raised. We need to bring these issues to the attention of the police and decide how to address them in our policy statement.
The police were notified of the responses from the consultation and took part in the consultation. Section five was amended according to their feedback.
Feedback suggested that the policy needed to be clearer that abusers can be a range of people such as paid carers and volunteers and that the violence older people experience can often fit the profile of domestic violence.
While these points were encompassed by the draft policy, revisions were made to ensure their augmentation.
Feedback suggested that CPS should be careful to not ignore other equality and diversity issues such as race and disability in the policy statement.
The draft and revised policy statements recognise the fact that victims can experience multiple discrimination and cross refers to other policies (e.g. domestic violence and hate crime) where relevant.
There were a number of other offences that were suggested for inclusion in the policy and guidance. The issue of anti social behaviour was also highlighted.
Anti social behaviour is explicitly mentioned and other offences included in the body of the statement have been set out where appropriate.
The section on support was warmly received however gaps were identified, for example, information about support available to people who felt intimidated. It was also suggested that we make reference to support and special measures in particular earlier in the policy statement.
Both of these points were taken on board and the policy revised accordingly.
Points in relation to the appropriate age to monitor our activity in this area were made. For example, which age (and which age bands) should we choose for monitoring purposes? 65 is the age for retirement for men and soon to be so for women. On the other hand, people get a bus pass from 60; the NHS provides free eye tests for people over 60.
After further discussion with the steering group it was decided that the age of 60 for monitoring purposes was most appropriate.
Please note that the final version of the public policy statement: Crimes against the older person will be launched on 15 July, 2008.
Action On Elder Abuse
Age Concern Colwyn Bay
Adult Protection Committee Bridgend County
Adult Protection Committee Shropshire County Council
Association of Directors of Social Services
Board of Deputies of British Jews
Commission for Social Care Inspection
CPS Community Accountability Forum
CPS Fraud Prosecution Service
CPS Greater Manchester
CPS West Midlands
Disability Resource Centre
Help the Aged
Independent Advisory Group Wiltshire
Individuals (7 people)
Isle of Wight safeguarding adults board
London Borough of Redbridge
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
Older People's Services Hillingdon
Older Peoples Services Flintshire Wales
Policy and Research Institute on Aging and Ethnicity (PRIAE)
Public Protection and Vulnerable Persons Unit, Birmingham, West Midlands Police
Sandwell Safeguarding Adults Board
Safeguarding Adult Board, Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire
Shropshire County Council Adult Protection Team
Safeguarding Adults Coordinator LBC
Sheffield Adult Safeguarding Partnership
Social service inspectorate, Wales
Stoke-on-Trent City Council Adult Safeguarding service
Trading Standards North West