By PAM DOUGLAS
For the first time in five years, reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse in Brampton and Mississauga have decreased.
Reports of elder abuse dropped 28 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010. There were 52 incidents reported, but 34 of those reports were determined to be “unfounded” once investigated, leaving 18 cases.
That compares dramatically with 72 reported cases in 2010, only five of which were determined to be “unfounded”.
The decrease came as a surprise, not only because reported cases have been consistently on the rise each year, but because police were expecting an increase because of new legislation that came into effect in January 2011, according to a report to the Peel Police Services Board. The legislation made reporting incidents mandatory for service agencies that suspect or witness abuse of a person with a developmental disability.
Also, the number of residents over the age of 60 has been increasing. The 2006 census estimated the population of seniors to be 165,325, or 14 per cent of the total population of Brampton and Mississuaga combined.
The 18 substantiated cases of elder/vulnerable person abuse reported in 2011 were broken down into several categories in a report to the Peel Regional Police Services Board:
• financial abuse (8);
• neglect (1);
• physical abuse (3);
• psychological abuse (1);
• mischief (1);
• civil disputes (4).
Out of those, eight resulted in criminal charges.
Between 2006 and 2009, reports of elder/vulnerable persons abuse in Brampton and Mississauga rose from six to 66, in part, due to changes in the way Peel police officers were classifying reports of elder abuse in the past, according to police.
The Peel police elder abuse and mental health co-ordinator attended 14 speaking engagements across Brampton and Mississauga last year, educating 257 residents and 70 front-line officers about issues surrounding elder/vulnerable adult abuse.
By PAM DOUGLAS