Over the last six months, you may have seen teams of workers in and around Canterbury wearing orange high-vis jackets displaying the words 'Community Payback'. Ever wondered what that was all about?
For those not already aware of the local initiative now into its second half year, Community Payback is a scheme run by Kent Probation and more locally by the Canterbury Community Safety Partnership. Low level offenders are set to work within the community, on tasks such as litter picking, painting, graffiti removal and the like. All teams are clearly marked, and the idea is that the offenders are given the opportunity to give something back to the community they wronged in the first place. It is also seen as a way to help rehabilitate offenders by giving them new skills, experience, and a sense of purpose and achievement.
Such projects are sometimes met with criticism, but I for one think they're an excellent idea - more than just a do-good effort, they really can make a difference to attitudes and the likelihood of repeat offence.
According to Canterbury City Council, the scheme is proving very successful in our area:
"The Canterbury Community Safety Unit runs a multi-agency meeting called the Neighbourhood Tasking Group to work out ways of dealing with local anti-social behaviour problems. The group uses the Community Payback teams to help provide part of the solution to problems.
Since February, teams of offenders have been working in the district, completing 34 litter picks, assisting at events and removing graffiti and paint at 15 locations. In future, signs will be going up in places where work has taken place under the Community Payback scheme so that residents are aware of what has happened.
Canterbury City Council’s Executive member for community safety, Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones, said: “Community Payback has been operating very well in the district and it is important we show residents that their neighbourhood has been improved as a result of this scheme.”
Kent Probation’s Community Payback Manager, Tim Salisbury, said: “Community Payback is a tough and visible punishment of offenders. Kent Probation works closely with the Community Safety Partnership to identify work for offenders to carry out as part of their community order, so it really benefits people living in the district.” "
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