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Party: we'll jail all yobs who target the elderly

By Michael McHugh

Published 12/04/2016

People who attack the elderly will serve a mandatory prison sentence under an SDLP administration in Northern Ireland, leader Colum Eastwood has pledged.

More than a dozen pensioners daily became victims of crime here, and conviction rates can be as low as 4%, the party said.

The nationalist party launched its manifesto for next month's Assembly election in Dungannon and vowed to crack down on those who target the elderly.

The manifesto read: "The SDLP believes that there can be no room for leniency when dealing with those who carry out attacks against older people, and pledge to support the introduction of mandatory prison terms for all those convicted of such attacks.

"The SDLP believes that we cannot continue to allow a situation where these crimes and the fear of these crimes destroy the safety, health and well-being of our older population."

Anybody committing an offence while drunk would also face stiffer penalties. It is estimated that each year 18,000 people are victims of alcohol-related violent crime and that alcohol is a contributing factor in one in five crimes in Northern Ireland. Almost two-thirds of street violence offences involve alcohol, according to the manifesto.

"Those who cause fear, inflict violence and commit crimes fuelled by alcohol must feel the full force of the law.

"Any person convicted of an offence where alcohol is an aggravating factor must serve at least a community service order if not a prison sentence. Suspended sentences for alcohol-related crimes are no longer acceptable."

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