The Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, has renewed her call to the PSNI and Policing Board for specific targets to be put in place to reduce crime against older people following a recent spate of burglaries across Northern Ireland.

"Recent reports of several burglaries of the homes of older people, some of which were violent, are sickening, and my thoughts go out to the victims and their families. This recent spate of crime in the run up to Christmas will make many older people fearful. It is essential that steps are taken to bring offenders to justice quickly and prevent further crime.

"Crime against older people is universally condemned across our society and although the level of violent crime and burglary against older people is relatively low in Northern Ireland, each incident is traumatic for the victim and causes fear among the wider population.

"A recent analysis of PSNI statistics carried out by my office found that crimes committed against older people have a clearance rate of only 9% compared with a rate of 17% for other age groups, meaning that they are less likely to result in prosecution.

"This worrying statistic shows that something is going wrong in the response to crimes committed against older people, and that not enough is being done to support victims. Training for police officers in dealing with older victims of crime, with thorough collection of all available intelligence and forensic evidence to ensure a greater chance of bringing offenders to justice must be a priority.

"If the police and government are truly committed to reducing crime and the fear of crime, as is stated in the current Programme for Government, this must be followed through with real and measurable targets which will ultimately improve clearance rates for crimes against older people. By doing this, we can be assured that this should increase confidence by reducing the fear of crime amongst older people, and send a clear message to would-be offenders that they will be brought to justice."