Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Worcester's Community Payback scheme cleans up the city
People cleaning up fly-tipping on a footpath
The scheme is funded by Worcester City Council

Worcester City Council and the probation service say their Community Payback scheme is cleaning up the city, and is not a soft option.

The scheme sees gangs of eight offenders doing community work including clearing footpaths and painting bollards and signs.

Mike Harrison, from the city council, says the scheme gives value for money:

"In terms of the value it provides it will be something I will be fighting very strongly to keep."

Hard work

Community Payback
Community Payback is a punishment which requires offenders, sentenced by the courts to unpaid work, to repay the community for their crimes. Offenders must carry out demanding work for between 40-300 hours.
If offenders are in full-time work or education they must give up one day at weekends. Unemployed offenders may have to work for three days a week.
Community Payback can be used for any offence that carries a sentence of imprisonment. It is used for a wide variety of offences such as serious motoring offences, theft, burglary, deception, public order offences and less serious violence.
The number of offender hours worked in the community in West Mercia in 2010 was 173,010 which the Probation Service say equates to £1,025,949.30 value to the community, based on the current minimum wage.
Hours worked in Worcestershire - 87,364 : Hours worked in Herefordshire - 15,945
The number of successful completions of Community Payback sentences in 2010 - 1301 which is an 80% successful completion rate.

Phil, who was sentenced to community service after an assault, says he's glad he's been given the chance to pay back the city in a tangible way:

"The way the courts dealt with me I was very lucky to get this, so I regard myself as quite fortunate to put something back into the community as a form of punishment.

"I work full-time and on my days off I come and do this, so it's not a soft option.

"This is my punishment, and then you've got other lads who are unemployed, who put four or five days a week in."

Andy Denning, the Probation Service's Community Payback Manager, says that this view is shared by most of the people on the scheme:

"People say prison is a soft option these days - you can talk to the lads who have done unpaid work and have been to prison and I think the feedback you would get is that Community Payback is not a soft option - they work and they work hard."

Community benefits

According to Mike Harrison, the feedback from people in the areas where the work is being done, and elsewhere in the city, has been very positive:

People cleaning up fly-tipping on a footpath
Everyone who takes part in the scheme is vetted

"People have been saying for a long time that we ought to get some payback for all these crimes that people have committed, and so if we can get that bit sorted out, it's a good thing to do anyway

"The fact that we can see a real improvement at the end of it is a real bonus as well.

"With all the council cutbacks and budget reductions there are lots of areas we'd like to clean up, which we literally have not got the resources to fund - this has been a way we can enter into those areas and show a difference without having to spend lots of money on it."


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