Scottish Law Could Lead the Way by Treating Elder Abuse as a Hate Crime

Author: Heather Warnock
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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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Heather Warnock

About Heather Warnock

Heather joined Mitchells Roberton in March 2013 as a Financial Guardian Administrator having graduated with a first class honours degree in law from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2011 and thereafter having completed her Diploma in Legal Practice at Strathclyde University in 2012. She was taken on as a trainee of the firm and started on 2nd June 2014. Heather has now completed her traineeship and is staying with us as a qualified assistant working in the Private Client Department. She will be assisting with succession and trust issues, the administration of estates and the preparation of Wills and Powers of Attorney. Heather is consistently client focused and is skilful in dealing with clients in circumstances which are frequently emotionally charged.Currently Heather is studying for the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates-Scotland and has passed her first exam Wills and Executries – Law and Practice with Distinction. Heather who is originally from Northern Ireland loves going home to visit her family whenever she can. She enjoys live comedy and the theatre. She is an excellent cook and expert baker….most welcome skills for our office. Email:

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