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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Ambassadorial role for offenders
Liverpool skyline
The city will celebrate 2008 with a large programme of events
Ex-offenders who undertake a course by Merseyside Probation Service could end up becoming volunteers for Capital of Culture events in Liverpool next year.

According to Liverpool City Council, the Probation Service is to offer the services of former low-key offenders as part of their rehabilitation.

However, potential volunteers would all have to take part in a five-month-long programme before being considered.

Scores of events are planned across Liverpool to mark 2008.

Dave Christian, the service's employment, training and education manager, said: "All volunteers would be strictly assessed and go through a rigorous training programme.

"None of them would be former drug users or have been involved in violent crimes - they would all be very low-risk offenders who had offended once and were unlikely to re-offend."

The worse thing we can do is to ignore them and label them as criminals
Dave Christian, Probation Service

According to Mr Christian the scheme would help former offenders gain employment.

"There are benefits to the community," he said.

"These are people who understand that they have committed an offence but want to move on with their lives.

"The worse thing we can do is to ignore them and label them as criminals.

"They need to prove to potential employers that they can do something positive and by offering their time as volunteers they are putting something back into the community."

Although a number of people are expected to be put on the probation course, Liverpool City Council will have the final decision on whether any candidates are suitable for volunteering.

'Something to offer'

Mike Doran, a spokesman for Liverpool City Council, said: "The probation service came to us because they are aware we are doing a lot of outreach work through volunteer work with people with disadvantaged backgrounds.

"They told us they have a programme where they are trying to rehabilitate low-key offenders and get them into good habits.

"They told us that they thought our volunteer programme had got something to offer and they asked us what we thought.

"It is up to them to put forward people through their five-month programme and when they have done this we will consider the options."

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