Pensioners Behind Bars
Pensioners Behind Bars looks at the increasing number of old people being banged up (ITV)

An increasing number of pensioners are turning to crime and end up growing old in jail.

An ITV documentary, Pensioners Behind Bars, looks at the elderly inmates with whom the law has caught up.

One inmate, Trevor Cairns, said: "It hits you when you're in court - you get 12 months and then you go down, you're locked up. You're locked up 23 hours a day. There's a lot of young kids on there, there's a lot of people on drugs screaming and shouting all night long."

The film includes stories of men and women who have adopted a life of crime in their later years, such as a driving instructor who became a brothel keeper, and a builder who started selling black-market cigarettes and cannabis.

The number of people over the age of 60 serving jail terms has trebled in since 1992. Pensioners are committing more crime and being given longer sentences.

Anthony McErlean, 67, is currently serving a five-year sentence for audacious fraud; he faked his own death while abroad to get his insurance company to pay out £500,000.

He was caught after police found his fingerprints on his own death certificate.

"I thought if I get sick I can't go back to the UK as a dead person and get healthcare. I'm up s**t creek without a paddle. I thought how do you un-kill yourself?" he said.

"I regret being in here, but I don't feel that I shouldn't be in here. I knew what I was doing and I knew the risks." 

Pensioners Behind Bars
The number of over 60s being incarcerated has tripled in the last 20 years (ITV)

Another, Adele Lubin, 66, got 15 months for conspiracy to control prostitution. She started a massage therapy business but found it was hard to make money without offering additional services.

"The phone used to ring and they would say, 'What kind of massage is it?' And I would say, 'Well it's very therapeutic, and relaxing and sensual'. And then some people would say, 'Well do you do a happy ending?' And I'd have to say, 'Yeah, no problem'.

"I never thought if I ever got caught I'd end up in jail ... I just didn't think I was doing anything too terrible." 

HMP Norwich has a specialist wing to house pensioners. Governor Will Styles said: "As the prisoner population ages, our job slowly shifts away from how do we deal with rowdy 19-year-olds, to issues like how do we care for people with dementia, healthcare and mobility issues. It's more about social care and less about order and control." 

The documentary also meets with elderly people who have served their time.

Freddie Foreman, a notorious bank robber and gangster in the 1960s, was released 17 years ago and we see him celebrating his 80th birthday: "Of course I'm retired. I'm entitled to be retired aren't I? I can't even run for the bus anymore, let alone anything else," he said.

Barbara Windsor, a friend of Freddie's from her marriage to bank robber Ronnie Knight, added: "[They are] naughty, naughty men, who aren't naughty no more, they can't be. Too old, they are." 

Pensioners Behind Bars is on ITV at 9pm tonight (Thursday).