Belfast Telegraph

SDLP pledges mandatory jail terms for attacks on elderly

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

More than a dozen pensioners became victims of crime every day in Northern Ireland and conviction rates can be as low as 4%, the party said.

The nationalists launched their manifesto for next month's Northern Ireland Assembly elections in Dungannon and vowed to crack down on criminals targeting the elderly.

It said: "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 have to do community service or be put behind bars.

It is estimated that each year 18,000 people are victims of alcohol-related violent crime and that one in five crimes in Northern Ireland has alcohol as a contributing factor. Almost two thirds of street violence offences involved 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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