At first glance they have little in common: men and women of disparate ages and racial backgrounds, from all four corners of the country.
But they share one utterly shameful bond; they have all mistreated vulnerable elderly people in their care, with a depravity that is truly sickening.
Two weeks ago, a Mail investigation highlighted shocking levels of abuse of the elderly by so-called carers in Britain, as well as the derisory sentences handed down to those who are caught.
The charity Action on Elder Abuse (elderabuse.org.uk; 080 8808 8141) is campaigning for a change in the law so that crimes against senior citizens are recognised as aggravated offences.
This would make them hate crimes, like those with racial or homophobic motives, leading to statutory minimum sentences — meaning that defendants would be more likely to be sent to prison, and could expect to receive longer jail terms.
‘Currently, perpetrators will usually be given either a fine or a suspended sentence — something that does not reflect the seriousness of the crime or deter others,’ says Gary FitzGerald, the charity’s chief executive.
‘Too many carers are getting away with treating our elderly appallingly. It can’t go on.’
The charity estimates, based on a review of academic studies including a major Department of Health report, that there are 464,500 people aged over 65 being mistreated in the UK.
More than 99 per cent of those responsible for mistreatment of pensioners go unpunished, according to the charity’s analysis of official crime figures. There were just 3,012 successful convictions between 2015 and 2016.
Mr FitzGerald says that while poor wages and the demands of the job are often cited as excuses, it is much more about the personalities of carers, poor filtering and monitoring of staff.
‘Elder abuse has nothing to do with low pay, status and education,’ he says. ‘It’s about personal values and attitudes. The threshold to get into this line of work is far too low — so we are allowing unsuitable staff, without the necessary empathy, access to very vulnerable people.
‘They get one month’s probation training, when what is needed is for them to work alongside a respected colleague for three to six months before being left in a one-to-one situation.
‘While some carers will carry on being kind, others will push, slap, squeeze and pinch their elderly charges. They are people who are likely to take advantage of any vulnerable person, so we have to first identify these bullies and then keep them away from our elderly.’