RECENT attacks on swans and cats, some involving air-guns, leave you sickened and depressed.

How could anyone, claiming to be human, be capable of such despicable acts?

The difficulty is in catching them; moreover, if they are caught, you can guarantee the sentences will be an insult to our intelligence. Asbos, community service, suspended jail sentences, fines that aren't enforced fool no one, least of all the yobs.

However, two things could, and should, be done at once.

Ban airguns. Such weapons are no use to anyone but thugs. Their availability is inexcusable.

Face up to the main issue: Punishment has to be meaningful or it is pointless. No space available in prisons or young offenders' institutions? Then build more, and make sure they are run properly.

Put people in charge who understand the difference between right and wrong, like ex-service personnel, rather than social workers.

Tony Kelly, Crook, Co Durham.