Why is this study needed?
Older victims of crime are a neglected area of academic study, having been traditionally considered low-risk for victimisation. Contemporary evidence has revealed older victims are at higher risk than previously thought for crime, but research on criminal justice responses to older victims and their experiences of the criminal justice system remain absent. Working in partnership with two police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service, with input and support from other key statutory and non-statutory agencies, this mixed-method study will examine how the criminal justice system (CJS) responds to older victims of crime and victim experiences of the CJS by addressing the following research questions:
This project will examine criminal justice responses to older victims (age 60 and over) and victim experiences of the criminal justice system (CJS), answering the following questions:
How do cases involving victims age 60 and over progress through the CJS?
2. Does victim age affect police and prosecution decision making?
3. What are older people’s experiences of the CJS and is how does age affect these experiences?
The objectives of the project are:
To map when, and understand why, criminal cases involving older victims drop-out (attrition) of the CJS.
To examine whether age affects decision making by CJS practitioners (police officers, prosecutors and lawyers).
To assess the current support for older victims in the CJS and how this is utilised.
To understand the extent to which older victims’ experiences of the CJS match their understanding of ‘justice’.
The project is funded by a British Academy Wolfson Fellowship (2020-2023).
What will the project do?
In order to answer the research questions and develop an understanding of outcomes and decision making by the police and the CPS in cases involving older victims, this project will take a sample of cases reported to the police and analyse how these cases progress through the criminal justice system. It will 'track' the developments of these individual cases and examine how (if at all) the victim's age affects the outcome and decisions made by professionals, and victims, in these cases. The project will combine this assessment of police and CPS data with interviews with professionals working on these cases to gain insights into the challenges and opportunities for investigating and prosecuting cases involving older adults. The study will also interview older victims to find out about their experiences of the criminal justice system, what they hoped would happen and what did happen (the outcome) and whether their age affected any decisions they made.
How can I get involved?
If you are an older adult who has been a victim of crime since 2019 and reported this to the police and would like to be involved in the study, you can contact the researcher Dr Hannah Bows. Contact details are provided at the bottom of this page.