Over 200,000 elderly people experienced domestic abuse in 2017/18

Published: 4th Oct 2019

In brief

Claim

200,000 elderly are abused by partners.

Conclusion

Around 210,000 people aged 60 to 74 in England and Wales are estimated to have been victims of domestic abuse in 2017/18. Of those people, 152,000 were victims of domestic abuse by a partner. However, the data is likely to underestimate the true extent of domestic abuse.

“200,000 elderly are abused by partners”

Daily Mail print edition (p24), 2 October 2019 

On Wednesday, Age UK released findings that at least 200,000 people aged 60 to 74 experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales in 2017/18.

In its coverage of the story, the Daily Mail’s print headline claimed that 200,000 elderly people were abused “by partners”.

This is not what Age UK’s report says. Age UK looked at data from the Office for National Statistics’ Crime Survey for England and Wales. The Crime Survey defines domestic abuse as abuse by a partner OR by a family member.

The Crime Survey estimates that in 2017/18 152,000 people aged 60 to 74 were victims of partner abuse and 66,000 were victims of family abuse.

The main body of the Daily Mail's article went on to report this correctly.

In all likelihood the number of people experiencing domestic abuse is higher than this, as the Crime Survey does not yet capture the offence of ‘coercive and controlling behaviour.’

As we’ve said before, the scale of domestic abuse is hard to measure accurately. The statistics are compiled through individuals answering questions in a ‘self-completion’ survey. The figures don’t tell us anything about how many individual cases of abuse were experienced by the people responding to the survey. We also don’t how many people who have suffered domestic abuse are reluctant or unable to report it in such a survey.

Age UK has called for the definition of domestic abuse to be expanded to include abuse by carers.

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