ALLOA'S former resident sheriff has last week taken up a post with a charity that works solely with children and families affected by imprisonment.

David Mackie, who served as sheriff in Alloa for 15 years before hanging up the robe and wig at the end of 2019, has become vice chair at Families Outside.

The national organisation was originally established by professionals in the justice system and childcare organisations and supported 1,850 families during 2020-21.

Mr Mackie sat on the bench at Alloa Sheriff Court for 15 years and has a keen interest in supporting families affected by imprisonment, having seen the impact it has first hand.

He said: “I have seen the difference first hand that Families Outside’s dedicated staff can make for children and families affected by imprisonment across Scotland.

“As Scotland looks to implement The Promise and incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, I look forward to working with Families Outside to make sure that children’s rights are better reflected across our justice system.”

As a sheriff in Alloa, Mr Mackie adopted a sentencing philosophy which focused upon addressing the needs of the offender rather than simple punishment.

In an interview with the Advertiser upon his retirement, he said: “I learned that short sentences achieve nothing.

“There is more research than you need to know that short sentences do more harm than good.

“They ruin lives of offenders and their families.

"In the sheriff court you find yourself dealing with people who break the law because of their circumstances.

“So many people who came in front of me had mental health problems, addictions, [or were affected by] domestic abuse or sexual abuse.

"Someone who has experienced trauma is likely to respond to situations differently from others, with violence for instance."

He added: “I don't mind being known as the softy's softy when it comes to sentencing because hard and soft is an irrelevant consideration.

“What is appropriate for the individual and society?

“We have to help people desist from crime.”

Mr Mackie is joining Families Outside along with incoming chair Linda Bendle.

Professor Nancy Loucks, chief executive of the organisation, said: “Like many charities across Scotland, we are seeing an increase in need from the families we support against a challenging funding background.

“I know that Linda and David will be an asset for our organisation and help us grow further to support more families.”

Families affected by imprisonment can visit for support.