Grandma’s spends

granGrandma had been getting worse day by day. She’s living in her own home with help from various agencies but she’s an easy target. Dementia has been diagnosed. Last year she paid a door to door salesman £1,800 by cheque for an item she didn’t want which was available on ebay for £45. It took a long time for the firm to accept that they had exploited an elderly woman and it took quite a while to get the money back. As a result of that Grandma’s cheque book was confiscated by her granddaughter. Pension was redirected to the bank instead of the Post Office and Grandma was given some spends. Problem solved. She couldn’t spend the not insignificant balance in her bank just the handful of tenners in her purse (and these mostly went on fags and fish & chips).

Then the spends started disappearing. £50 on Monday evening turned into £30 by Wednesday and Grandma complaining that she didn’t have enough. Daughter in law topped Grandma up to £40.  It turned into £10 by Friday and no-one knew where it was going. Grandma and Alzheimers didn’t help. Her short term memory was non existent. She didn’t go out much at all. She didn’t appear to buy much. Rarely did anyone call at the door. Carers & meals on wheels arrived, so did the hairdresser.

Eventually the conclusion was reached that it was either Grandma stashing it away for the future or someone else was involved. To resolve the issue a hidden camera would be installed. After a few quotes we settled on a local man who’d done this many times. 3 motion activated hidden cameras in lounge, kitchen and understairs cupboard. £375 a week. They went in last Monday.

” I can save you £375″ he joked as he twiddled his screwdriver, “It’s always the carer”.

Donning our DP hats for a moment…

  • Who is the data controller?
  • Who are the data subjects?
  • Is notification required?
  • Is there data processor issue?
  • What Schedule 2 or 3 condition justifies the processing?
  • Are the Subject information Provisions relevant?
  • Which exemptions might apply?
  • Is RIPA relevant?
  • Do we need a PIA?

The Security firm didn’t consider any of these questions. They just installed the cameras.

Two hours after installation (but a week later as we trawled through 800 images downloaded to our laptop from the card inside the cameras) we saw on image number 4 someone go into the understairs cupboard with Grandma’s handbag, hang it up on a hook, open it, take some notes from the purse and replace it. The Security man said the evidence was good enough for the police (being well versed in this sort of thing). It happened again on image 43 then again on image 267.

The culprit? It was someone the grand daughter knew well and who had been visiting grandma every day to check she was eating properly, doing odd jobs around the house and generally looking out for a vulnerable old lady. She was being paid for this service but had chosen to take a few pounds every day to boost her income.

The next stage is to confront the person; consider telling the police; consider informing her employer; find a new helper; let grandma know what has been going on and pay the security man who had a part time job as a fortune teller.

It was, as he predicted, the carer.

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1 Response to Grandma’s spends

  1. Rowenna Fielding says:

    Presumably all of the camera surveillance data processing was exempted from the provisions of DPA by the “domestics purposes” exemption (s.36), so no fair processing, PIA, notification or any of that would be required. Did you have informed consent from your Grandma though? That might invoke the Human Rights Act, if not.

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