This Safer Ageing Week, Hourglass is calling on the Scottish Government to do better when it comes to safeguarding older adults.
This call comes in the face of poor data collection, abolition of key ministerial posts, slow roll-out of headline initiatives and a lack of core safeguarding strategies.
Historically, Scotland has been a leader regarding safer ageing both in terms of legislation and attitudes. It was pioneering in 2007 when it was the first nation to give social workers power of entry to investigate suspected abuse of older people. But Hourglass, Scotland’s only specialist charity focused on the abuse of older people, says that leading role has diminished.
Sadly in 2023, there are several areas of Scottish policy and legislation relating to older people that are not good enough. These include:
- Poor data collection by Police Scotland and the safeguarding sector of crime committed against older people.
- The abolition of the Older Peoples’ Minister and the lack of an Older Peoples’ Commissioner in Scotland.
- The slow role out of ‘Ask for Ani’.
- The lack of a strategy to tackle Economic Crime in Scotland.
- Narrow definition of Domestic Abuse in the Scottish legislation which only includes intimate partners and not close family members as it does in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Hourglass has released a briefing paper to all MSPs which gives an overview of how well Scotland is doing with regards to justice and in protecting older people. This paper finds there are significant gaps, and that Scotland is falling behind in key policy areas.
The report makes a list of recommendations to ensure older people can grow old safely in Scotland.
Scotland: Issues and movements concerning Safer Ageing
This briefing assesses movements, issues, and legislation in Scotland concerning safer ageing and the protection of older people from all forms of harm, violence, abuse, and neglect.
This report includes several recommendations which will help older people in Scotland grow older safety and free of abuse. We hope this or future Scottish Governments will take these recommendations onboard and work on a strategy to keep all older people safe.
This week is Safer Ageing Week. As part of this Hourglass will be releasing Safer Ageing Index’s for Wales and London, having released our Northern Ireland Index in 2022. Safer Ageing Index’s for the rest of England will be released in early 2024. Soon Scotland will be the only UK nation without a Safer Ageing Index due to the lack of data. This is something the Scottish Government needs to urgently address.
Richard Robinson, CEO of Hourglass, said:
“We hope this policy briefing will spur the Scottish Government into action. At present the government appear to focusing their energies away from the protection of older people. The pandemic, the economic crisis and the year-on-year growth in our casework means this lack of action can only be to the detriment of older victim survivors. This simply isn’t tolerable as we seek to build a safer ageing society.”
“We need Police Scotland to properly record data pertaining to crimes committed against older people just as the Police Service Northern Ireland does. And we need the Government to use this data to build a robust strategy to tackle abuse and neglect of older people in Scotland.”
Lord Foulkes, Hourglass Patron, said:
“Scotland was once a leader in the UK for protecting older people. The decision to scrap the Minister for Older People, the lack of data regarding crime committed against older people and the lack of any strategy shows that older people are not a priority for the current Scottish Government.
With an ageing population we need Holyrood to prioritise safeguarding of its older citizens as a top priority.”
Hourglass operates in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It runs the only 24/7 helpline for older people suffering abuse or neglect. The helpline, instant message service, SMS and chatbot provides unique support and advice – as well as Europe’s only Knowledge Bank on the abuse and neglect of older people. The team can be reached on 0808 808 8141.
The charity is urging those keen to support the charity to donate by visiting www.wearehourglass.org.uk/donate or Text SAFER to 70460 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text SAFERNOINFO to 70460.