A LOCAL intellectual has sprayed ‘MINCE’, in large, green letters on a bus shelter, my back fence and elsewhere in the village.

Should I report this vandalism to the police, I ask myself and almost automatically I answer no. My complaint wouldn’t get further than the Police Scotland call centre. The thought of an actual police officer makes me laugh. All the report would do is log a crime against my postcode and drive up my household insurance premiums.

Most people instinctively understand the broken window theory of crime. They know that if you don’t repair the damage done by vandals then this will only encourage more vandalism. They understand that if the police and the courts don’t pursue petty criminals then crime will become normalised and their offending will only get nastier and more frequent.

Most rank-and-file police officers, I suspect, don’t think very differently from the general public. But they are deterred from upholding the law by the bureaucratic paper chase, politically-correct agendas and the courts’ sentencing guidelines. 

The dirty secret of our criminal justice system is that Scotland has 60,000 problem drug-users who finance their addiction via criminality: shoplifting, burglary, robbery and prostitution, but only 8,000-odd prison places.

The sentencing guidelines thus function as a sort of triage system for the criminal courts to keep offenders out of prison.

In a sense, the graffiti artist is quite correct, Scotland’s criminal justice system is ‘mince’.

Otto Inglis,