WEARSIDE offenders have carried out almost £500,000-worth of work in two years to clear up their communities.
In 2011 to 2012, offenders racked up a time sheet of 38,895 hours in Sunderland – the equivalent of £236,481.60 of work donated to the city.
The previous year saw offenders carry out 36,396 hours of work, worth £221,287.68.
Under the scheme, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this month, offenders have carried out a string of work under the supervision of Northumbria Probation Trust to help spruce up the city.
This includes gardening, painting, building fences, removing graffiti, litter picking and clearing overgrown areas to make them safer for the public.
Martyn Strike, head of Community Payback at Northumbria Probation Trust, said: “The work performed by offenders is as valuable today as it was 40 years ago.
“Community Payback is tough and demanding and it punishes the offender. It helps them develop a work discipline and a sense of achievement, which is an important part of the rehabilitation process.
“Community Payback reduces re-offending by teaching offenders new skills and helping them focus on making other choices in their lives.”
Recent projects have been organised with the help of Sunderland City Council’s new place boards.
Under the scheme, board members meet regularly to enable ward councillors to work with partners and residents to flag up concerns about issues in the area that need dealing with.
These include antisocial behaviour, litter and environmental needs.
Community Payback forms part of the process and offenders have recently restored footpaths, pruned bushes and painted litter bins and benches in Barnes Park.
Coun Michael Essl, chairman of the West Area Committee Place Board, said: “We value the work of Community Payback not only in terms of helping with environmental improvements but also in terms of providing constructive and rewarding activities for all those involved.
“Community Payback provides us with additional resources, which gives us even greater flexibility in delivering targeted services at a local level.”
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