Figures compiled for 2016/17 by Probation show that offenders on Community Service in the Belfast area have completed 76,100 hours of unpaid work to benefit local communities. That is around £570,000 worth of work to help local communities in Belfast.
Probation’s Chief Executive, Cheryl Lamont said, “Probation works by changing lives for safer communities and Community Service is a key element in our work. It is a visible and practical method of ensuring offenders pay something back to the community while helping them to develop skills they can use in the future which will prevent them continuing in a cycle of crime.
Community Service is one of the most successful court sentences in terms of preventing re-offending. Three out of four people who complete community service do not re-offend within one year.
Over the past seven years this has translated into over one million hours of unpaid work, worth over seven million pounds, invested into local communities, across Northern Ireland.”
Community Service Area manager for Belfast, Aisling Reynolds said, “We supervise offenders working on a range of projects including environmental clean ups, painting and decorating community premises, grass cutting, and maintenance. These projects have included Lagan Towpath, Cruise, Queen Street building, Oxfam, Milltown Cemetery, Clonard, Corpus Christie, East Belfast Mission, and Oasis. We also work with Belfast City Council and provide assistance to Policing and Community Safety Partnership projects that target the effects of criminal and anti-social behaviour like graffiti removal or neighbourhood clean ups. These have included projects in the Holylands, Lower Ormeau, and Upper Queens Street. This has been added to with a Graffiti Removal Service van through partnership with Belfast City Council. We also have a large number of placements giving back to the community through assisting charity shops, and local community centres.
Through these and many other projects over the last year, 76,100 hours of unpaid work has been delivered equating to a reparative value of over £570,000. Many communities within the Greater Belfast area have benefitted from this as a result.”
Offenders who carry out this unpaid work are able to give something back to communities, make reparation for the crimes they have committed and develop skills to help change their lives away from a cycle of crime. Probation staff supervise these sentences in a robust manner and if someone breaches their sentence they are returned to court.”
If any community group or member of the public has an idea for a project that offenders could work on for the benefit of your community, they can nominate a project for offenders to undertake at www.pbni.org.uk or you can email us at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Criminal Justice Inspection in their follow up report “A follow-up review of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland’s Community Service Scheme” used a reparative value calculated against the National Minimum Wage for the Community Service Scheme. This reparative value calculation was used to show the reparative value of Community Service for the year 2016/17. Currently this is £7.05 for 21 to 24 year olds and a living wage of £7.50 for 25 year olds and over. Most of those on Community Service are 25 years or older.