Offenders paying community back

Corby, Danesholme Estate, Partners from Corby Borough Council, Northamptonshire Police, Community Payback and the Youth Offending Team join to tackle environmental issues and focus on safer routes around the estate. 'l-r Craig Spence (Neighbourhood Manager), Chris Stanbra  and Jimmy Noble  with Simon Allen (probation worker) and community payback worker. 'Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Corby, Danesholme Estate, Partners from Corby Borough Council, Northamptonshire Police, Community Payback and the Youth Offending Team join to tackle environmental issues and focus on safer routes around the estate. 'l-r Craig Spence (Neighbourhood Manager), Chris Stanbra and Jimmy Noble with Simon Allen (probation worker) and community payback worker. 'Tuesday, 13 September 2011

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Churches, sports clubs, community groups and charities from across the north of the county have benefited as offenders pay their debt to society.

Offenders carried out compulsory unpaid work at more than 30 organisations in the north of the county last year.

The Rev Paul Frost, of St John the Baptist Church in Corby, which has had offenders clearing the car park and painting railings, said: “It’s just great to get people giving back to the community.”

Clare Lester, secretary of Burton Park Wanderers Football Club in Burton Latimer, which has had offenders loading skips, trimming hedges and painting, said: “We have been very pleased with it. It’s a good thing. The community should benefit.”

Last year 405 offenders helped 12 projects in Kettering, 290 aided eight in Corby, 273 contributed to 12 in Wellingborough and 134 worked at two in East Northamptonshire.

The work ranged from plastering walls at Irchester Parsons Hall Community Centre to mowing lawns at Croyland Primary School in Wellingborough, painting over graffiti at Denfield Track in Rushden and planting trees at residential homes in Corby.

The lowest risk offenders even worked at three charity shops in Wellingborough, sifting through clothes, steaming garments and rotating stock under the supervision of Probation Service staff.

The Probation Service tries to match offenders with skills, some of whom are tradesman, to tasks.

But Laurie Cookson, induction and placement officer for the Probation Service in the north of the county, said all work had to be visible to the community.

He said: “People like to see criminals punished.

“We have demonstrated we are delivering an effective punishment.”

Offenders were out clearing snow and gritting pavements in Kettering during the cold snap.”

Mr Cookson, who has worked for the service for 10 years, said: “To be honest at this time of year it’s not easy.

“It’s cold, the conditions are tough and the work is predominantly outdoors.

“It needs to be where they are seen to be doing what the public want.”

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, who has invited Justice Minister Nick Herbert to visit some of the Community Payback projects in Kettering, welcomed the winter work, which is being carried out with the county council.

He said: “That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard for the schemes.

“There’s a huge cost to the local NHS with people, particularly our growing older population, falling over and breaking bones in the snow.

“Getting offenders to grit pavements means they are working in difficult conditions but doing something of huge benefit to the community.”

Mr Cookson said most offenders also find helping the community rewarding, and community groups benefiting agreed.

And Mr Frost said: “For some of them it gives them a sense of esteem and they find it rewarding to give something back.”

John Sugars, chairman of Rushden Historical Transport Society, which has benefited from community payback for a number of years, said one offender even joined the society after completing his sentence.

He said: “They saw what we are doing and thought it was a worthwhile thing.”

NORTHANTS PROBATION