Promoting the interests and welfare of senior citizens in Wealden

Sussex Elders’ Commission

Giving older citizens a voice on policing and crime

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, has launched the Sussex Elders’ Commission (SEC), to provide a mechanism for older citizens to support, challenge and inform the priorities set out in the county’s Police and Crime Plan.

The 28 volunteers, aged 60 to 85 have a range of experience in the private and public sector. Some have been victims of crime or anti-social behaviour and some want to get more involved in keeping their communities safe.

They have held their first workshop ahead of a Sussex-wide consultation – the Big Conversation – with their family, friends and peers on policing and crime issues.

The workshop involved presentations from Sussex Police and partners on scamming, elder abuse and police objectives, as well as discussion groups and a Q&A session.

Commenting on the importance of the SEC, Mrs Bourne said: “Twenty per cent of the Sussex population is aged 65 and over and the biggest population increase is in the over 85s. As PCC and the daughter of an elderly mother, I feel it is vital that we listen and act on the concerns of this section of our society. The SEC will provide a much- needed platform for older residents to inform and challenge my Police & Crime Plan and feedback on local policing in their area”.

Jonathan Hopkins, from Citadel Policy and Communications who spoke at the workshop said: “I was inspired by the commitment and passion the members have to make a real difference, drawing on their extensive networks. It is by engaging directly with older people and their experiences across Sussex that issues can be evidenced and solutions found from within local communities. The members did not shy away from getting to grips with difficult issues from elder abuse to cyber-crime and the challenges for local policing. This will play a major part in shaping and influencing policies and improvements for older people living in Sussex”.

Mrs Bourne continued: “It was great to meet the members again and hear why they have signed up to the SEC and what they want to get from it. Pauline Jackson from Bexhill told me that as a trustee of Age UK in East Sussex she is passionate about the elderly community, particularly those who are vulnerable and isolated. She feels that she will be able to reach out further to fellow residents and inform them of what is happening in their community and how the SEC can improve their experience with Sussex Police.

“Ray Hoare from Horsted Keynes told me he has always had a keen interest in local policing and wants to be more informed on the changes that lie ahead. He will use the SEC to feed back on how local policing is working in his community and what concerns residents have.

“Kate Davies, who chairs East Sussex Seniors Association, said she feels that older people’s fear of crime is often greater then the crime rate itself. Kate wants to enable the elderly to have a proper say on policing and make sure their voices are heard”.

Members have already identified their priorities which include financial coercion; fear of crime; local policing, isolation and road safety.

The workshop highlighted the different mechanisms and channels that members intend to use for the Big Conversation, ranging from small intimate groups to large pre-existing events, speaking opportunities as well as stints on hospital radio.

The OPCC will support the members’ programme of engagement with venue, transport, surveys, and engagement tools and training.

Find out more about the next steps for the Elders’ Commission visit www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk

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