Policing statistics find that older people are less likely to be a victim of crime; however the fear of crime is significantly higher among the older population. Fear of crime can have negative effects on quality of life, limiting the activities of individuals, which can further impact physical, social and emotional well-being. This, along with a feeling of vulnerability, can lead to isolation and exclusion of older people from their local community.
The Garda Older people’s strategy aims to ensure that older people feel safe and secure in their homes and communities. It is from the Garda Older People’s Strategy that the Crime Prevention Ambassadors programme emerged. The overall aim of the programme is to deliver crime prevention information to older people, provide them with clear and effective crime prevention advice and address the fear of crime. The project was specifically designed to empower older people within the community by working in partnership with An Garda Síochána through local Community Policing Gardaí and Crime Prevention Officers.
It was agreed to pilot the initiative in the Cavan, Monaghan and Meath Age Friendly county areas during 2013 and it was led by An Garda Siochana, supported by Ageing Well Network (now Age Friendly Ireland), Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and local county councils for the respective areas.
The program involved selecting and preparing active older people and community representatives as Ambassadors to support older and vulnerable people in their community by delivering crime prevention information to them.
The project was specifically designed to:
- Allow An Garda Síochána to use resources more effectively by employing Divisional Crime Prevention Officers and Community Gardaí to disseminate relevant crime prevention information via a community volunteer network.
- Mobilise older people who are active in the community thus providing a basis for social inclusion for older people.
- Instill meaningful engagement by allowing older people to voice their concerns and needs regarding local crime and the fear of crime within their community.
A regional forum representing the Age Friendly Alliance and Gardaí in each of the three counties was established to oversee the implementation of the pilot programme. The Crime Prevention Ambassadors who took part in this pilot programme volunteered their time and were sought from existing Older People networks or associations such as Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch, Older People’s fora and groups.
On completion of the pilot programme the regional forum agreed to conduct an evaluation of the pilot programme in order to support and inform the implementation of the Crime Prevention Ambassador programme in the future. We look forward to sharing the outcomes from this review with you shortly.