Holyrood MSPs to consider how to prosecute ‘despicable’ abuse of the elderly

MSPs will consider how the abuse of elderly people should be prosecuted and if it requires new legislation.

Representatives from Police Scotland, the Crown Office, and charities Age Scotland and Action on Elder Abuse Scotland are among those appearing before Holyrood’s Justice Committee on Tuesday.

Classifying offences based on age as a hate crime was one of a series of recommendations made by former Court of Session judge Lord Bracadale in his review of hate crime legislation published last May.

He recommended hostility to age and gender should be added to the current system of statutory aggravations to offences involving malice and ill-will based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

A Scottish Government consultation on the recommendations closed on Sunday and the responses to this will help shape a hate crime bill due to be laid before the Scottish Parliament by September.

Speaking ahead of the committee meeting, Justice Committee convener Margaret Mitchell (pictured, right) said: “Taking advantage of an elderly person is a despicable act.

“Having safeguards in place to stop elder abuse occurring in the first place is clearly very important.

“Therefore when this abuse does happen, it is vital that perpetrators face tough consequences.

“A range of views exist on how best to crack down on abusers.

“The Justice Committee is listening to the arguments being advanced, and wants to know what, if anything, needs to change to ensure elderly people have the necessary protection they require.”

The committee will hear from Action on Elder Abuse Scotland director Lesley Carcary, head of policy and communications at Age Scotland Adam Stachura and chief inspector of adult services at the Care Inspectorate Gordon Paterson.

They will be followed by head of policy at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Anthony McGeehan, Police Scotland Chief Superintendent John McKenzie and Rosalyn McTaggart of the Law Society of Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our consultation on hate crime legislation in Scotland based on the 22 recommendations from Lord Bracadale’s review, including that age be made a new statutory aggravation, ended this week.

“We have appointed independent analysts to consider the responses and we will use their report when developing new hate crime legislation.”

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