The Elderly and Crime in England and Wales
Until recently, the elderly have been virtually ignored in criminal justice literature and research. However there is growing awareness of the fact that populations in Europe and in other parts of the developed world such as Japan are becoming older. With more individuals defined as elderly, it is certain that the elderly will play a greater part in the criminal justice system, either as offenders, victims, or functionaries within justice institutions. Due to the foreseeable changes, there has been a recent growth of interest in the role of the elderly in the justice process.
This chapter focuses on the role of the elderly in England and Wales. The chapter is divided into four parts.
Part I focuses on the concept of the elderly, that is, how are the elderly defined. It provides some comment on the amount of elderly crime in England and Wales and also provides an example of a recent complex offense committed by the elderly.
Part II focuses on the response of the justice system to those who commit criminal acts. In this section, matters of diversion, sentencing, and the types of punishment that are most appropriate for the older offender convicted of crime are considered. The criminal justice process of England and Wales is explained in this part.
Part III focuses on older victims of crime in England and Wales. The types of victimization are given, and the factors and the circumstances that make the elderly vulnerable are discussed. Laws and programs developed to assist the elderly are mentioned.
Part IV focuses on the role of older persons serving as functionaries in the justice system. Questions pertaining to the maximum age of a judge, prosecutor, or member of a jury are considered, including when they might lose the capacity to be effective.