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Crime, mental illness, and older people 

Crime, mental illness, and older people
Crime, mental illness, and older people

Graeme Yorston

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date: 22 October 2021

Though older people are less commonly the victims of crime than younger people, they fear the consequences of crime more, and are particularly vulnerable to certain types of crime. There have been difficulties in older people getting access to justice in the past, though this is now improving as the police and prosecuting authorities have become more sensitive to the needs of older people as witnesses. Older people commit far fewer offences than younger adults, but offending in late life can be a direct consequence of a range of mental disorders including depressive psychosis, organic personality change and dementia. Older mentally disordered offenders present different assessment, diagnostic and management challenges to their younger counterparts and specialist secure psychiatric services have evolved to meet their needs. The number of older people in prison has increased dramatically and depression is very common in this group, though it often goes unrecognised and untreated.

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