At the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland conference in Dunblane, first minister Jack McConnell outlined his commitment to tackling the scourge of crime.
Mr McConnell said: 'Crime and how to tackle it matters to me. Never more so than now when I have the opportunity to lead government in Scotland and make a difference to safety in our communities.
'Communities where people tell me that there's no point in phoning the police - they can't do anything or they take too long to arrive.
'Over the course of my lifetime I have seen that there has been a growing crisis in confidence in the legal system and a sense that people have lost sight of the difference between right and wrong. We have to change this.
'We need to redress the years of decline in respect for the legal system. We need to set a tone that criminal and anti-social behaviour quite simply will not be tolerated in any community in Scotland and we need to tell our young people that there is a difference between right and wrong.
'All of our public agencies, including the police, have a vital role to play in achieving this.
'What matters is that we all take responsibility - for systematically and comprehensively turning round those years of neglect and failure. And we do that here and now - because we are the system.
'This is an issue that I will be coming back to again and again as we push ahead with our legislative programme and legal reforms. My message is clear. We can make a difference. The challenge for us all is to make sure that we do.'
The lord advocate, Colin Boyd also spoke at the ACPOS meeting today on crown office and procurator fiscal service r eform.
He said: 'The ongoing modernisation of the crown office and procurator fiscal service is a key element in the programme of change being implemented through the criminal justice system.
'While it is clear that real progress is being made, there is still room for us to raise our game to improve the service we provide for the people of Scotland.
'No one chooses to become involved in the criminal justice system. No one wants to be a victim or a witness of a crime. So involvement in the criminal justice system is never going to be a welcome prospect.
'But it is up to us to ensure that failures within the system don't add to the distress.'