Page last updated at 00:09 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Bright vests for offenders call

Man wearing bright vest
The vests have already been introduced in England and Wales

Offenders doing community service should be made to wear high visibility clothing so they can be more easily identified, a Labour MSP has said.

Richard Baker, the party's justice spokesman, said this would allow the public to see offenders carrying out useful work.

He said this would also help challenge the view that community service was a "soft touch option."

The Scottish Government said it was looking at ways to enhance visibility.

A spokesman said: "We want to make sure communities have a say in the work being done and that the work is visible.

"We have funded three community justice authorities to pilot new ways of making the work more visible to communities and will act on the results.

"What's most important is the work being carried out by those serving community sentences, that they pay back their debt to society with the sweat of their brow, and that we bring down the rates of reoffending to make Scotland safer."

"Community payback"

Mr Baker pointed to the example set by some US states.

He said: "In America many community courts get their offenders to wear high-visibility vests.

"The community can clearly see that offenders are working hard to repay their debt to society for the offence they have caused."

Vests, marked with "community payback", were introduced for offenders in England and Wales on 1 December.

But the probation officers' union said some offenders have been abused and threatened because of the high visibility clothing.

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