There are many who bemoan the increase in numbers being given custodial sentences.For those of us with experience of actually making those decisions they are not made lightly. Indeed they are often arrived at with a heavy heart. The figures released today on offences associated with knife possession illustrate a problem that does not go away. Judges and magistrates are faced with protection of the public in addition to consideration of the offender. The public outcry when such a balance goes wrong and further crimes are committed is not pleasant for those involved in the original decision. Transform Justice and the Howard League eg, both lobbyists beloved of the intelligentsia, would have many such offenders rehabilitated without incarceration: so would we all. In practical, financial and political terms it ain`t going to happen. Whether that is a welcome or unwelcome conclusion is not for this post.