Mandatory jail terms for attacks on the elderly
I am incensed by the way Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and NI21 have joined forces to block any chance of a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment for those who attack the elderly being implemented in Northern Ireland.
I feel that introducing such legislation would have sent a very clear message that despicable criminals who attack older people would be firmly dealt with.
Mandatory sentencing would have also helped to address the problem of sentencing disparity and unduly lenient sentences.
In the Programme for Government indications were given that more needed to be done to protect our elderly. An Assembly motion was passed in November 2011 calling for tougher sentences.
In 2013 police investigated almost 4,800 attacks on people aged 65 and over. Shockingly only 4% of these incidents resulted in someone being charged. More must be done to ensure that those who carry out attacks against the elderly are caught by the police and then brought before the judiciary.
It is time that members of other parties in the Assembly faced reality and recognised that this amendment on mandatory minimum sentencing for those who carry out a violent offence against the elderly was focused on protecting elderly people who have supported and provided for us over the years.