OFFENDERS have carried out almost £250,000-worth of work in the Wearside community in the last year as they repay their debt to society.
More than 40,000 hours of work, worth £243,654, has been racked up as fences are fixed, shrubbery pruned and graffiti removed across the city.
Under Sunderland’s Community Payback scheme, offenders carry out a series of work under the supervision of Northumbria Probation Trust. The idea is to improve derelict or overgrown areas and return them to public use.
Martyn Strike, director of Community Payback at the Trust, said: “Community Payback is a really effective sentence as it punishes the offender, supports their rehabilitation and provides an opportunity to pay something back to local communities for the harm caused through crime.
“The work punishes the offender as it deprives them of their free time and is tough and demanding. It rehabilitates as helps individuals to develop a work discipline, employment-related skills, as well as a more positive attitude, helping them focus on making other choices in their lives.
“I am very pleased Northumbria Probation Trust was able to deliver almost £250,000-worth of work to communities across Sunderland.
“This work supports that undertaken by Sunderland City Council, providing an enhanced service which might not otherwise be possible.
“Offenders have been involved in clearing overgrown areas, making them more pleasant and safer for local people to use, maintaining fencing on housing estates across the city, street clearance and work to maintain public parks.
“Work is also undertaken for local charities, churches and community centres.”
Community punishments are often seen as the best alternative to custodial sentences.
Councillor Michael Essel, chairman of Sunderland’s West Area Committee, said: “We value the work not only in terms of helping with environmental improvements but also providing constructive and rewarding activities for those involved.”