The 12 days of local Pressmasness: 6 criminal Grannies


If Christmas is all about giving, then it’s only right we celebrate the Freedom of Information request which keeps on giving – the one about old people and the crimes they first commit.

It’s a bit like The Snowman, or Only Fools and Horses – a repeat which can be guaranteed to turn up at Christmas, but remains compelling all the same.

I first read a story about criminal pensioners – revealed using FOI – in the Bristol Post back in 2009, and they’ve appeared almost everywhere since.

Criminal OAPs were served up as Christmas stories in several places this year.

In Gloucestershire, the Citizen reported that theft was the most common crime pensioners were arrested for, while the Hertfordshire Mercury reported pensioners cultivating cannabis and offending public decency.

As it’s Christmas, and Channel 4 seems to be full of nothing but best of compilation lists, here are six of the best OAPs uncovered thanks to FOI:

1. 104 and arrested for common assault

In the North East, the Sunday Sun reported a catalogue of crime committed by pensioners in 2010. There, serious crimes such as murder, rape, and burglary are just part of a long list of offences that over 65s were arrested for. The oldest arrest was a 104-year-old taken in after a common assault, with a 98-year-old arrested for violent assault.

Criminology programme leader at Sunderland University, Anthony Amatrudo, said: “We shouldn’t really be surprised as the reality is many old people are not always going to be lovely and we should expect a level of crime by the elderly.”

2. 200 arrests for sexual offences

In Manchester, a 94-year-old was the oldest person arrested – again for a violence offence. But the statistic which stood out in Manchester was that of the 1,600 OAPs arrested in the three years to 2010, 200 of them were arrested for sexual offences.

The GMP figures also include a 90-year-old man arrested and cautioned for criminal damage, an 80-year-old woman arrested for theft and handling of stolen goods and 19 senior citizens arrested for drugs offences.

3. And to think I thought Cambridgeshire was a quiet place

It would appear Cambridgeshire isn’t the quiet, chilled place I thought it was – especially if someone with grey hair is nearby.

The Cambridge News reports that OAP crime is rising sharply. Officers in Cambridgeshire arrested 175 OAPs last year, 176 in 2009, 140 the previous year and 119 in 2007, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

The offences they have been charged with include some serious crimes such as carrying knives and guns, theft, fraud, shoplifting, drink-driving and sexual offences.

Terry Thompson, of Age UK, Cambridgeshire, believes the reason for the rise could be that  people are living longer.

He said: “As for carrying guns and knives, I think the only guns they may be carrying are from the Boer War, and not as offensive weapons.”


4. Enter the GRANBO

Top marks to the Reading Post for calling for pensioners to get their own ASBOs – called GRANBOs – after discovering the scale of OAP crime in the Berkshire town.

Offending pensioners have steadily increased since 2007 with the oldest members of society carrying out attempted murder, sex attacks, assaults, drug dealing and drink driving.

Drug dealing pensioners. Sells itself in conference, doesn’t it?

5. Anything the English can do….

….  The Welsh can do better. This story from WalesOnline reveals that pensioners dealing drugs are one thing, but in Wales, it’s pensioners trafficking drugs that’s a problem there.

A pensioner crime wave has seen more than 800 people over the age of 65 arrested in Wales over the past year.

This included a 72-year-old cuffed for alleged drug trafficking in South Wales and an 85-year-old suspected drink- driver in the Dyfed-Powys Police patch.

The oldest person was an 86-year-old man arrested in Gwent on suspicion of harassment without violence.

6. And where this FOI all began (as far as I can tell)

As far as Google is concerned, the earliest sighting of a story based on this story was on the Wolverhampton Express and Star’s website back in 2007.

Figures obtained by the Express & Star for the past three years also show the number of old people breaking the law in Dudley is on the up.

Drink driving, sexual offences, breach of Anti-Social Behavior Orders and harassment are some of the other crimes which have lead to OAPs being arrested.

Dudley Council old people’s champion, Councillor Hazel Turner, said some senior citizens can behave as badly as some of the youngsters who hit the headlines.

With a champion like that….


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