Justice Minister Nick Herbert praised a community payback scheme after seeing criminals doing hard labour in Kettering today.
The MP saw criminals building a path next to the River Ise, Kettering, as part of unpaid work ordered by courts.
Mr Herbert, who was invited to see the success story by Philip Hollobone after the Telegraph reported Northamptonshire Probation Trust had the lowest re-offending rate in the country, said: “What I’ve seen in Kettering is the right kind of scheme that requires offenders to do physical work that will really make a difference to this area and benefit the community.”
The project, carried out in conjunction with Kettering Council and the Environment Agency, involves up to 10 offenders undertaking unpaid work to improve an area which was once overgrown with weeds and flooded regularly.
The project will improve public accessibility to an area of land along the River Ise and contribute to a wider scheme to revive the river and its surrounding environment.
The work is part of a robust community sentence called ‘intensive community punishment’ run by the probation trust.
The package of punishment can include unpaid work, curfews, tags and the newly introduced foreign travel bans.
Hosting the visit, John Budd, interim chief executive of the trust, said: “This project is a good example of community payback working as it should do, for the benefit of the people of Kettering.
“It’s demanding work but worthwhile to both the community and the offenders.”
Mr Herbert said: “It’s important that people who commit crime face the consequences.
“Visible, unpaid and productive work requires offenders to pay back to the local community, helps to prevent re-offending and ensures that justice is seen to be done.
“We are now making community payback more rigorous to ensure that offenders really do the work and that the public has confidence that the punishment is appropriate.”
David Cook, chief executive of Kettering Council, also visiting the project, said: “It was delightful to welcome the minister today and see a truly worthwhile community payback project.
“I’m sure that the locals will see, and recognise, it as valuable repayment to the community.”