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Families stole £25m from older relatives

ALMOST £25 million of cash and property was reported stolen from vulnerable elderly people last year – and the majority of the thieves were members of the old person’s family, according to a new report from Action on Elder Abuse.

Family members either defrauded their relatives of money, sold their homes without consent, or applied pressure such as blackmail to persuade an elderly person to give away their home, the charity claim.

Sons and daughters are the people most likely to rob older people of their cash, valuables and even their homes, the report says.

The findings are from a study of all the calls to the charity’s helpline during 2013, relating to financial abuse of older people in their own homes.

The audit shows that a staggering 74% of theft, fraud and deception which takes place in a domiciliary setting is committed by the victim’s own family, with 51% perpetrated by sons or daughters – who are usually middle aged.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: “For over a decade we have been calling for adult protection to be put on the same statutory footing as child protection work, but the Government has failed to hear that message.

“Instead they have provided no new powers to address the failings of the current system. We have to ask why older people are better protected in Scotland than in England.

“Until we treat the abuse of older people with the same seriousness as child abuse, this level of theft, fraud and deception is likely to continue. It’s becoming a veritable industry in our nations.”

Actress June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in the TV soap Eastenders, is encouraging people to come forward and talk to the elder abuse hotline (080 8808 8141).

She said, “It is frightening that so many older people endure appalling neglect and abuse without ever getting the support and help that they need. It’s almost like a silent scream from our friends and neighbours that we have to hear. That’s why I’m encouraging people to talk to Action on Elder Abuse. Help is at hand, we just need people to reach out and grasp it.”

June’s video can be viewed at:

Acton on Elder Abuse helpline 080 8808 8141

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