SECURITY cameras should be installed in the homes of pensioners after
complaints of theft and fraud against elderly victims doubled in a year, according
to a leading charity.
Action on Elder Abuse estimated that money and goods worth £18 million was
stolen from elderly victims, many of whom were targeted by friends, family or carers.
Calls from pensioners who believed they were suffering financial abuse rose from
3,500 to 7,529 in 2015.
Separate figures showed adult social services were alerted to 21,935 cases of
alleged theft and fraud against elderly victims in the 12 months to March last year.
Of those 4,168 complaints related to carers. Two-thirds of cases registered by the
Health and Social Care Information Centre involved allegations of financial abuse of
the elderly by friends and family.
The figures have been linked in part to elderly people being cash-rich, thanks to
generous pensions and benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, in combination
with a rise in people coming and going from their homes to provide care. It has led
AEA to advise concerned relatives or friends of vulnerable elderly people to consider using surveillance systems, including hidden spy-style cameras, to catch thieves red-handed.
The charity's chief executive, Gary FitzGerald, said: "Theft from older people is on the increase and worryingly the thieves are often people they should be able to trust, care workers, family and so-called friends.
"When money or valuables go missing it can be too easy to assume that the older person is at fault and has made a mistake, but we would encourage people to be far more suspicious and to investigate further.
"Hidden cameras are a proven way of checking out what is happening and gathering evidence and we would recommend people give serious consideration to this option. It is hard for a thief to blame the poor memory of the victim when caught red-handed on camera."
The Care Quality Commission has issued guidance on installing surveillance in private homes and recognised that in some cases covert or overt cameras "may be the best or only way to ensure safety or quality of care".
Such devices can now be bought cheaply on the high street, with some models coming ready concealed within decoy household items, such as a bottle of air freshener.