Scotland could be one of the first countries in the world to treat abuse of the elderly as a hate crime. The Justice Minister, Humza Yousaf, advised that he was considering whether targeting victims because of their age should be treated as an aggravating factor by the courts. He was speaking in light of the recommendations of a review of hate crimes by Lord Bracadale. In his report, Lord Bracadale argued that offences against the elderly should be a hate crime where it could be shown an offender was motivated by hostility based on a person’s age. Elder abuse encompasses physical assault, sexual assault, harassment, coercion, threats, intimidation, theft, fraud and neglect.
Mr Yousaf said “I have looked at Lord Bracadale’s recommendation. As far as I know we could be one of the first jurisdictions in the world to have an aggravation on age, making sure we stand up for the elderly and vulnerable and for the dreadful way they are targeted by some.”
“Unfortunately as a constituency MSP you hear more and more cases of people being scammed, exploited and defrauded because of their age and I am very open to looking at this.”
Leslie Carcary, director of Action on Elder Abuse Scotland said “Currently, the decision to apply a tougher sentence in cases involving older victims is at the discretion of the judge. That’s not good enough.”
“What our older people and their families need is the reassurance that criminals who prey on them will receive a punishment that fits the crime. That reassurance must come in the form of a statutory aggravated offence to ensure consistency in our justice system.”
Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of charity Action on Elder Abuse, said “For far too long we have seen older people routinely neglected and abused across the UK with no end in sight. The systems designed to protect seem incapable of doing so and the law fails to deliver justice for the victims.”
“Too often we see cruel or uncaring care and health providers get away with their crimes. And too often we see abusive friends and family do the same. They either get a slap on the wrist or a police caution, or in a very few cases end up in court and get a suspended sentence or community service.”
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