UCL News


Study: appeal for older victims of crime

29 October 2009

Press release Links:

ucl.ac.uk/mental-health-sciences/" target="_self">UCL Mental Health Sciences
  • Dr Marc Sefarty

  • UCL researchers are appealing for adults aged 65 or over who have been victims of crime to take part in a study that will look at the psychological effects of the experience and the effectiveness of potential treatments.

    The HAVoC study (Helping Aged Victims of Crime) is being led by psychiatrists from UCL Mental Health Sciences, who are looking for individuals who live in the North London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington to take part.

    Dr Marc Serfaty, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer at UCL who is leading the research, said: "Crime can wreak havoc on older peoples' lives, with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder being the main psychological problems victims can experience. Such trauma may also produce social withdrawal and isolation that can have a negative effect on mental health.

    "This study will help us to determine the impact of crime on older people's psychological health and quality of life, and understand its effect on this vulnerable group. We also hope it will help us develop an effective treatment, using recognised methods, to improve overall quality of life."

    Following initial screening of hundreds of people, some participants will be offered cognitive behavioural therapy which has been modified specifically for victims of crime. If the team get promising initial results from this pilot study, they will apply for funding for a much larger study in the form of a randomised controlled trial.

    The study is being funded by the Department of Health's Research for Patient Benefit Programme and is being run by UCL in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police, Victim Support, Age Concern and Help the Aged.

    The researchers will also collaborate with colleagues from the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, the Health Protection Agency, and the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health.

    Local people interested in taking part in the study should contact Anna Ridgewell (020 7794 0500 ext 35315, a.ridgewell@medsch.ucl.ac.uk) for more information.

    Media contact: Ruth Howells