Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality Niall Collins has published legislation today which would allow for mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of assaults on older people.

Deputy Collins commented: “There has been a significant increase in rural isolation, particularly affecting older people, which has led to an increased vulnerability and a greater fear of crime among many communities.  There have been a number of high profile cases of older people being targeted in their homes by burglars.  We are publishing legislation today, the Assaults on Elderly Persons Bill 2015, which specifies a minimum prison sentence of three years for people convicted of assault causing serious harm to older people and threatening to kill or cause serious harm to anyone aged over 65.

“The latest crime data from the CSO shows an increase of 5.5% in the number of aggravated burglary offences from the second quarter of last year compared with 2013.  There were over 25,000 burglaries during the same period, over 3,000 assaults causing harm, and almost 10,000 assaults.  Crime against older people is not specifically recorded as a heading in the CSO however there is considerable anecdotal evidence that older people are more vulnerable to attacks as a result of increased isolation.

“Only in December the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland called for specific targets to be put in place to target crime against older people because such crimes were less likely to result in prosecution.  We are seeking a similar analysis here to establish the rates of success in bringing crimes against older people to a successful court outcome.”