I WAS almost reduced to tears on reading Wednesday’s Daily Echo (May 15) - page after page of depressing stories.

A knife attack in the centre of Bournemouth in broad daylight; crime in Dorset costing every family in the county more than £2,000 a year and a local nursery trashed by kids with knives.

I don’t buy the claim that all this is down to cuts in police budgets. The reason that we are sinking under an avalanche of crime and antisocial behaviour is that our courts have gone soft on perpetrators – with judges and lawyers more concerned with protecting the rights of perpetrators than victims.

It’s time to stop making excuses for criminal behaviour and start handing out punishments that reflect the seriousness of offences.

I am sick and tired of hearing liberal do-gooders pleading, for example for leniency because a child offender had a hard upbringing, is below the ‘age of responsibility’ or that a burglar only broke into a house because he needed money to feed his debug habit.

We need mandatory minimum prison sentences – with absolutely no chance of parole.

Such as an automatic three-year minimum sentence for carrying a knife or other weapon – whether or not it is used in the commission of a crime; a minimum 10 years for using a weapon: a minimum 10 years for supplying drugs – increased to 20 years where drugs are smuggled into a prison. And hold parents responsible for the behaviour of their children.

We have absolutely no way of putting an end to the appalling rise in crime until we punish offenders with appropriately draconian jail sentences.

Our society proves the truth behind the old adage “Spare the rod ....”.

ROBERT READMAN, Norwich Avenue West, Bournemouth