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Eine Seniorin schaut durch einen Spalt einer kettengesicherten Tür

Criminal Offences against the Elderly

Elderly people are the preferred victims of con artists and tricksters, who make cunning and methodical use of credulity and uncertainty to their own advantage. In addition to the significant financial losses that are often suffered, the mental distress it causes is particularly onerous for victims. This can manifest itself in self-doubt, shame, and loss of confidence. It can even lead to victims completely isolating themselves.

Elderly people often suffer more severely from the consequences of an offence than younger people. In order to accommodate the unique needs of elderly people, some public prosecutors in North Rhine-Westphalia have already established special units which specifically deal with criminal offences to the detriment of elderly people.

These units are primarily focused on processing legal proceedings arising from offences to the detriment of elderly people where their increased vulnerability and credulity as a result of their advanced age was exploited. 

Furthermore, the State Prevention Council bolsters safety-related and preventive action in old age. For example, the Theatre Ensemble for Older Persons at the Independent Workshop Theatre in Cologne was commissioned to put on a preventative stage play entitled “Tricked? Not us!” with the aim of making elderly people aware of confidence scams. It was developed in cooperation with the Cologne Police and the Sozialwerk der Kölner Polizei e.V. (The Social Welfare Association of the Cologne Police). In this play, actors and actresses aged between 66 and 88 highlight the tricks that fraudsters and thieves use on elderly people and how they can protect themselves effectively against such criminal offences, which often have very serious consequences.

Find help fast

You can find further information in the “Victim Protection for Elderly People” leaflet, for example. In addition to target-group specific information for victims of criminal offences, the leaflet also contains relevant help and contact points. 

Furthermore, the victim protection commissioners for the district police authorities can arrange for victim help and support specifically for elderly people as required.