COMMUNITY payback has helped spruce up several areas of Warwickshire this year.
The initiative is aimed at helping criminals move away from reoffending and also positively impacts projects in local communities.
Since the first Community Service order (as it was then known) was made in Nottinghamshire in 1973, many thousands of projects have been completed across England and Wales, helping people on probation to gain skills and experience as they complete their requirements, and benefitting communities.
Fifty years on and the courts nationally hand down more than 50,000 unpaid work requirements each year to offenders for crimes including theft, criminal damage and alcohol-related incidents.
Work can include removing graffiti, clearing wasteland and decorating public places and buildings like community centres.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has been visiting sites across the county community payback has helped to improve.
This included the Eagle Recreation Ground in Leamington where vegetation has been cleared back at the canal side entrance to the park, creating a safer and more welcome environment along the public footpath.
He also visited Stamford Gardens where residents are benefiting from work to clear back a previously overgrown communal garden, which had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
In Welford, community payback has helped maintain the grounds and footpath at the Welford Millennium Project. And the footpath that runs through the millennium site has recently been awarded ‘the best maintained footpath in Warwickshire’ by the rambler’s association.
Mr Seccombe said: “It’s been great to meet with the organisers of the community payback schemes here in Warwickshire as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first order being handed down by the courts. Since then, the value of such work has only continued to grow.
“There’s no doubt that community payback is hard work but there are rewards for the individuals ordered to take part, with a sense of value and satisfaction in a job well done. They may even learn new skills which can help with their rehabilitation, which is vital to help prevent a cycle of reoffending. When you consider the improvements to public spaces and community schemes that community payback helps to implement, everyone gets a benefit.”