Tories and SNP clash on sentencing

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THE Tories and the SNP have clashed over community service orders handed to offenders instead of a prison sentence.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman and Lothians MSP David McLetchie called for the public to have a greater say in the work carried out by people doing community service with local groups bidding for offenders to undertake specific work, such as gritting pavements or painting fences.

He claimed government figures showed more than a quarter of offenders given Community Payback Orders did not do any work at all.

He said: “The SNP seem intent on emptying our jails as part of their soft touch approach to justice.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said local authorities were already required to consult the community on the type of work low-level offenders should carry out.

He said: “Statistics published earlier this month show Community Service Orders are on average five hours longer than two years ago. The number of breach applications fell by eight per cent and a record 74 per cent were successfully completed.”