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Protecting Our Elderly Together

A seminar held in Newport today aims to enhance the way that partners in Gwent work together to tackle scammers and swindlers who make the lives of older people and some of the most vulnerable members of our community a misery.

Whether it's through the post, on the doorstep, via the internet or over the telephone, unscrupulous scammers have found a way to invade and destroy every aspect of the lives of older and vulnerable people by duping them out of their precious assets and savings.

With the aim of enhancing working partnerships with various agencies that help tackle these scammers, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Gwent and Gwent Police are hosting the 'Protecting Our Elderly Together' seminar in conjunction with Age Cymru Gwent today. The Older People's Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, will be amongst the special guest speakers at the event which has been organised in support of the National Charter (Wales Against Scams Partnership - WASP) and Action Plan she developed with Age Cymru to protect older people against scams and swindles.

Up to 130 people from various partner agencies in Gwent are expected to attend the seminar at the Lysaghts Institute in Newport to discuss how they can work better together to bring more perpetrators to justice. The OPCC for Gwent and Gwent Police have developed a regional action plan and have worked closely with Trading Standards to build a list of more than 1,100 people in Gwent who are prone to scams. The list has been circulated to each local authority in Gwent. Specialist agencies based at the Connect Gwent victims' hub in Blackwood are also contacting some of the most at risk people to help provide specialist advice.

The day will also feature inputs from the Gwent Senior Citizen Liaison Team and there will be a session on tackling cybercrime and internet safety by Getsafeonline - the UK Government's security service to help protect computers, mobile phones and other devices from malicious attack.

Older People's Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: "Scams have a devastating and lasting impact upon older people's lives, not only separating them from their savings, but also affecting their confidence and their dignity. Scams ruin lives and it is time to recognise them for what they are - theft and criminal deception that often preys upon some of the most vulnerable individuals in society. 

"That is why partnership working - to tackle scams in all their forms and to help communities to be more resilient and aware of scams and their impact - is vital to ensure that older people across Wales are better protected from scams and the criminals who perpetrate them."

Highlighting the importance of raising awareness and building partnerships, the Head of Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation for the Gwent OPCC, Lyn Webber, said: "Older people are much more likely to be the victims of certain scams and they can often be harassed out of their savings by a variety of con artists pretending to be something they are not. We want to keep our elderly communities in Gwent safe from crime. By working with partners on a local and national basis, we want to make it harder for these criminals to exploit or scam older people and this seminar is a positive step forward in that direction."

Gwent Police Chief Inspector, Matthew Williams, who has responsibility for Neighbourhood Support in the East Local Policing Area, said: "It is essential that we work with partners in the community to raise awareness of things people can do to protect themselves and their properties and provide reassurance to the elderly and those who are most vulnerable. The crimes committed by these scammers have a huge impact on victims so it is essential that we prevent, disrupt and enforce against these criminals."

The Facts: Scams Against Older People

  • Only 5% of these crimes are reported;
  • The average age of a scam victim is 74, showing that criminals tend to prey on older and often more vulnerable members of society;
  • Studies have proven that vulnerable adults defrauded in their own home lose confidence and are 2.4 times more likely to either die or go into residential care;
  • Scams cost the UK economy between £5-10 Billion a year;
  • The stress and pain of victimisation often results in depression, withdrawal and isolation from family and friends and the deterioration of physical and mental health;
  • In some cases victims have been known to either consider, attempt or commit suicide.