HC Deb 15 July 2003 vol 409 cc271-2W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what initiatives to tackle crimes against older people his Department is responsible. [124439]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 10 July 2003]: Elderly people are far less likely to suffer crime than younger people. But in recognition that crime against older people is particularly distasteful, we have funded several schemes specifically to tackle this problem.

We set up a Distraction Burglary Task Force in 2000 to facilitate a multi-agency approach to reducing the problem of bogus callers and rogue traders. The task force includes people from different agencies who work with older people, such as Age Concern and Help the Aged, as well agencies such as the police. It has invested substantial resources and effort in promoting local schemes to tackle the problem, liaising with utility companies and others that need to call on the elderly, gathering data and publicising good practice both to the elderly and to those that work with them.

Under the Crime Reduction Programme, we funded a two-year programme (the Locks for Pensioners scheme) to provide home security upgrades for low income pensioners in areas with burglary rates above the national average. The scheme was run in conjunction with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra's) Warm Front scheme, and, under it, over 58,000 homes received additional locks or bolts.

The Locks for Pensioners scheme has ended. But it is now open to Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to fund local schemes where they identify crime against the elderly as a problem in their area. We cannot provide comprehensive data on locally funded projects for the elderly as this information is not held centrally. However, we know that interventions being implemented include improving the appearance and security of homes, sharing intelligence with all the involved agencies, educating people in crime reduction measures and providing reassurance and assistance.

The work we are taking forward to tackle crime generally, while not solely aimed at older people, deals with many of the concerns they have about their safety.

General initiatives which may have a particular impact on older people include the introduction of Community Support Officers tasked with tackling low-level crime and anti-social behaviour of the sort that causes older people much concern, and work with the Department of Health to evaluate the effectiveness of security technology in reducing crime and the fear of crime in two pilot hospitals and one ambulance service in England.