Last week I attended a public meeting in Greenock, in which families and people afflicted by Scotland’s violent knife culture, gave their views on how we address the problem of violent crime both locally and across the country.
While progress has been made in recent years to highlight this serious problem, due to the determination of local campaigners such as John Muir, its clear there is still a lot that remains to be done.
Early intervention and education has a crucial role to play if we are to change the culture. But in the short-term, there needs to be recognition that if we are to keep our communities safe, a tougher approach is required against those who repeatedly use violence to get their way.
The message was loud and clear from the audience that attended the meeting that we must bring back some honesty into sentencing. When the courts hand out a 15 year custodial sentence, it must mean exactly that.
People also said that the punishment meted out by the authorities must be proportionate to the crime committed. Giving someone a community sentence for committing a violent act is simply not on.
Furthermore, it was emphasised that bail conditions must be enforced, and if they are breached, the violent criminal in question should be back in custody in a flash.
And finally, a member of the audience underlined that the trauma felt by someone who has been subject to a brutal assault can last for months or even years, and that it can be extremely difficult for them to speak about the event.
It’s crucial therefore, that we have a system of justice that stands by the victim not only in the immediate aftermath of the violent crime being committed but throughout the whole process.