Shocking figures have revealed that more than 2,000 crimes have been committed in nursing homes in West Yorkshire since 2015.
Only 197 of the 2,156 crimes resulted in a charge or summons. Of the overall figure, 718 were in Leeds, 605 were in Bradford, 393 were in Kirklees, 304 were in Wakefield and 136 were in Calderdale.
Figures show that 239 of the crimes were criminal damage, 817 were assault and 198 were burglaries. Other offences included arson, rape, fraud and other sexual offences.
West Yorkshire Police said there were a further 108 “ongoing offences” that have occurred at care homes or nursing homes between 2015 and 2017, but they could not provide any details as that could undermine any criminal proceedings.
The police added that some of the 2,156 crimes could have occurred in the car parks, fields or outbuildings owned by a nursing home.
Figures show that for 174 of the crimes, a prosecution was prevented because the suspect was too ill, while 65 were dealt with using a community resolution, which can involve the offender apologising to the victim.
Thirty of the crimes led to an adult caution, while 17 led to a youth caution.
One case of criminal damage in Wakefield didn’t lead to a prosecution because the suspect was too young. A burglary in Bradford and a sexual offence in Leeds did not lead to prosecutions because it was not deemed in the public interest.
Further investigation was not deemed to be in the public interest in 33 cases, some of which involved sexual offences, possession of drugs and violent assault.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said; “Residential care facilities are often communities themselves and sadly we do, albeit very rarely receive reports of incidents taking place within them, or their grounds.
“Officers are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our communities and work with care providers to offer crime prevention and safety advice, as well as detecting and investigating crimes and where possible bringing those responsible to justice. We work closely with our partners to support nursing homes and other agencies working with older and often, more vulnerable members of our communities to keep them safe and feeling safe.”
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “Any crime at a nursing or residential care home is taken very seriously with the proper support for victims.
“Partnership working with local authorities and the providers of these care homes is vital and key to ensuring people feel safe and are safe. That includes the recent reinvestment into Neighbourhood Policing which focuses on engagement and early intervention and ensuring communities, including those working and living within the nursing home setting, have those contacts with NPT teams to become aware of crime prevention advice and support.
“Dedicated safeguarding units also exist in every district of West Yorkshire and my office works with these units as well as with adult health and social care to safeguard adults at risk.
“But safeguarding is not something that one agency can do alone, and we work closely with local authorities, other organisations and charities to support victims and educate communities.
Dedicated Safeguarding Weeks where the police, local authorities and partners come together to champion this support are also held every year, with this year’s being in June.
“Any family member or relative with any concerns around safeguarding or any fears of crime or vulnerability experienced by their family member should contact their local adult social care or West Yorkshire Police.”
MP for Wakefield Mary Creagh said: “These figures reveal the hidden shame of elder abuse in our region.
“West Yorkshire Police and the CPS have questions to answer as to why they decided not to prosecute so many violent assault and sexual offences, and what steps they have taken with the Disclosure and Barring Service to ensure violent individuals do not set foot in another residential home.
“Relatives can use the Victims’ Right to Review scheme to appeal these decisions. I urge anyone affected to contact their MP for support in obtaining the justice which they and their loved ones deserve.”
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “My heart goes out to anyone who has been the victim of a crime in a nursing home, places where both staff and residents’ families and friends should feel their loved ones are safe.
“However, without knowing the details of each individual case I don’t think It would be fair to comment on their outcomes. But we have a police force and a justice system that has been decimated by cuts over the last eight years and this underfunding is having serious ramifications.
“If anyone in Batley and Spen has experienced such a crime and don’t feel they have been properly dealt with, please contact my office on 01924 900036 or email firstname.lastname@example.org”
Lisa Butland, chief executive of Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees, said: “These figures are deeply distressing and show that too many older people living in care homes are not being adequately protected from abuse and neglect. Any abuse of older people is completely unacceptable, and we need a zero tolerance approach, whether the abuse is physical or mental cruelty, financial manipulation, theft or neglect.
“Care homes have a moral and professional duty of care to some of the most vulnerable members of our society which they have a responsibility to uphold at all times, and the pressures on our social care system can never be a legitimate excuse for them failing to do so. It is down to the leaders of care homes to set the right tone and create a culture in which poor care, neglect and abuse are totally unacceptable and in which staff have the confidence to whistle blow if something bad happens, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported and that firm action will be taken against the perpetrators as a result.
“We worry that many instances of abuse or neglect of older people go unreported so we would encourage anyone who suspects that an older person is at risk to contact their social services department or the police without delay. People can also call Age UK’s advice line on 0800 169 6565 if they have concerns.”