Community service brings in £2m of unpaid work

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An army of more than 3,000 criminals has carried out compulsory unpaid work in the county worth almost £2m over the past three years.

More than 1,000 offenders, whose minor offences judges felt were better punished in the community than prison, carried out work in the north of the county from plastering community centres to planting trees at schools.

Laurie Cookson, induction and placement officer for the Probation Service in the north of the county, said: “The benefits are it saves the taxpayer a lot of money. It costs an enormous amount of money to put people in prison for short sentences.

“People like to see criminals punished. We have demonstrated we are delivering an effective punishment.”

Offenders carried out 108,225 hours of work across the county last year, which, based on the minimum wage, was worth £658,008.

In 2010 they carried out 105,205 hours, worth £623,865, and in 2009 they carried out 118,378 hours, worth £686,592.

Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice Nick Herbert has agreed to visit community organisations benefiting from offenders’ work in Kettering after an invite from the town’s MP, Philip Hollobone.

Mr Hollobone said: “If they are putting in a solid day’s work most of the schemes are of more benefit than sitting around in a prison cell.

“And if it teaches them the value of hard work and puts something back into the community while giving them a chance to think about what they have done, it has to be a good thing.”

Mary Geaney, director of interventions, partnerships and community for Northamptonshire Probation Trust, said: “Community Payback is a core aspect of Northamptonshire Probation Trust’s business.

“We are proud of our successes in delivering the punishment of the court, while at the same time providing benefit to local communities and rehabilitating offenders.”