More than half of Scots consider current court sentences to be too lenient, according to a new survey.

The Scottish Sentencing Council found 56 per cent of respondents believe the punishments to be “much too” or a “little too” lenient.

It has led to renewed calls for an end to “soft touch” justice and the presumption against prison sentences of less than a year.

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Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: “The SNP cannot continue to ignore the majority of Scots who oppose their soft touch justice.

“In addition, almost 60 per cent of Scots agree that the courts’ number one priority should be protecting the public.”

Judge Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and chairwoman of the Scottish Sentencing Council, said: “This research gives the council some insight into how we can most effectively contribute to improving that public understanding.”