The Hatton Garden jewellery raid piqued the national interest because of the age of the now convicted malefactors but perhaps we should not be so surprised. We are in the middle of a grey crime wave committed by OAPs.
Cambridgeshire Police report that crimes committed by pensioners have increased by 47 per cent. In 2013 around 800 people over the age of 65 were arrested in Wales for various misdemeanours. Of those who had their collar felt was an 86 year-old for harassment, an 85 year-old suspected drink driver and a 72 year-old drug trafficker. Common offences appear to be carrying knives and guns, theft, fraud, shop-lifting, drink-driving and sexual assaults. So bad is the problem that the Kingston wing of Portsmouth prison has had to fit a stair lift.
If as an old codger you don’t get your kicks from crime you will probably get your fix from booze. A survey published by the Office of National Statistics revealed that in 2012 that older drinkers, classed as 45 and over, were most likely to consume alcohol more frequently and those aged 65 or over are likely to have drunk hooch on at least 5 days in a week. Pub owners are reporting having to ask a higher percentage of drunken old codgers or Saga louts to leave the premises than ever before. Over a third of men and 20% of women aged between 65 and 74 drink more than the recommended daily amount.
And then there is sex. Over 80% of those aged between 50 and 90 are sexually active and this has fuelled a threefold increase in the number of cases of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea amongst the elderly in the last ten years or so. Viagra has a lot to answer for!
And then there are the drugs. Baby boomers grew up in an era of free love and drugs and so it is not surprising that in our older, less frenetic years the temptation to pop some pills, snort some marching powder or toke a spliff re-emerges. Official figures on the extent of non-prescribed drug use amongst the elderly are hard to find. Empirically it goes on but in the privacy of their own homes or at dinner parties rather than on the sweaty dance floor of a nightclub.
However, by the time you get to OAP status you are likely to be prescribed a fistful of drugs to keep you going or make your diurnal existence tolerable. Experimentation with quantities and mixes is likely to provide you with your own legal high without having to trouble the dealer granny with the large handbag at the Darby and Joan club.
And then there is the urge to recapture your youth. I am astonished by how many of my friends and acquaintances, pensioners all, are going to the Glastonbury Festival this year. Of course they are going to stay in a nearby hotel rather than rough it on a campsite but still. Perhaps it is an attempt by Michael Eavis to ensure that the audience has roughly the same age profile as the stage acts.
So life doesn’t end when you shuffle off the corporate greasy pole. There are countless opportunities to grow old disgracefully if you keep your eyes open.