Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Community pay back 'is effective'

Community pay back workers
The bright orange jackets make the workers highly visible

Officials behind a scheme to make offenders visible say it has helped make local people understand the impact of community sentences.

The year-old project means offenders working in Wales wear bright orange jackets with "community pay back".

Liz Hughes, the north Wales probation area manager, said the scheme was effective in a number of ways.

Last year 14,000 offenders carried out 150,000 hours of community work in north Wales.

"Communities can see the work we do," said Ms Hughes.

"[Beforehand] I don't think the community actually realised how much work we actually do, and what type of work we do," she added.

I'd rather do this than go to prison, obviously
Brian Maude, working on community pay back project

"I really believe that the community understands now what that sentence is all about," she added.

'Part of the punishment'

One man wearing the community pay back jacket while clearing hedging near Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, was Brian Maude, from Rhyl, who received a 240-hour community service order for assault.

"I'd rather do this than go to prison, obviously," he said.

"This is helping me too as I've not worked for a while so it's getting me working again. I'm wanting to work, wanting to do something."

He said wearing the jacket was "part of the punishment".

"If you're not in prison at least people know you've done the crime, now you're doing the punishment," he added.

Hilda Blythin, who lives near the area being cleared, said she was glad the work was being carried out.

"It's absolutely wonderful as they are giving something back to the community after they've done wrong," she said.

Ms Blythin said she was also hopeful that the scheme was helping the offenders, as well as showing residents what was being achieved.

"We just see these fines in the paper... they get a 'be a good boy, and a smack on the wrist and get on your way', but with this we're actually seeing something done.

"I'm really pleased about it," she added.

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