Fewer offenders dodge work orders

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The number of convicts getting out of compulsory unpaid work orders given by the courts in the county is dropping to record levels.

Out of 1,331 of the orders given out by judges and magistrates last year, only 157 escaped doing the work – 12 per cent.

This compares to 2009 when 231 out of 1,167 convicts got out of completing the work orders – 19 per cent.

The unpaid work community orders are given out for less serious offences and are usually for about 100 hours of work to be completed within a year.

The work they do, which includes plastering community centres to planting trees at schools, was worth £658,000 to the county last year.

Probation community engagement manager Matthew Chester said he was pleased with the benefits the punishments brought to communities.

He said: “Fewer and fewer convicts are gettting out of doing the orders for unpaid work.

“The work they do not only helps communities, but sometimes helps the convicts realise the positive roles they can play.

“We’re pleased we’ve managed to help bring down the numbers of people who do not complete their orders.

“I think we’ve done this by offering support and, where necessary, threatening enforcement action.

“You cannot force everyone to do the work, but I think we’re doing a good job.”

The probation service in the county expects to get 600 more people to complete their unpaid work orders this year.

The form of punishment has proved popular as a way to ease the strain on prisons.