Older people who are victims of crime are being let down by police and prosecutors in England and Wales, a report has concluded.
The joint report by two watchdogs has looked for the first time at the treatment of victims aged over 60.
It found that care was not good enough in 101 of the 192 cases examined.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it accepted the findings. The College of Policing said it aimed to improve the protection of vulnerable people.
The report highlighted “grave” concerns regarding safeguarding measures and said: “Much work is needed”.
Inspectors found 153 cases in England and Wales where a safeguarding referral should have been made by police to the local council.
But there were no such referrals in about half (77) of the incidents.
Police forces in Greater Manchester, North Wales, Dorset, Humberside, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire were examined for the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).
The report said: “Crime against older people isn’t well understood, despite the vulnerability of older people and the importance that society attaches to looking after people in their old age.”
Although police forces recognised fraud was an “increasingly common concern” for older victims, forces had only a “superficial” understanding of other problems, the report added.
Officers struggled to deal with the complex needs of older people and did not always take measures to keep them safe after they had reported a crime, the report found. Referrals to victim support services were also branded “too inconsistent”.
In one example, a 75-year-old man who was said to be traumatised after being attacked and threatened was not contacted by police for three weeks after reporting the crime.
Another case concerned an 83-year-old robbery victim who lived alone and had mental health problems.
Inspectors said he was given no opportunity to record his evidence in advance of the trial. The case was later dropped because he was unable to testify in person in court.
The College of Policing, which sets standards for the police, said it would work to improve the protection of vulnerable people, whatever their age.
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, said older victims of crime presented a “unique challenge” to police officers.
A spokesperson from the CPS said it accepted all of the report’s recommendations.