Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Harman launches pilot for community groups to have a say in offe

04/06/07

Camberwell Green magistrates’ court wants to hear from you if you’re a community group in Lambeth or Southwark and know of an area, building or some other project that needs repairing, renovating or cleaning up. It’s your chance to have a say in what unpaid work is done by offenders in your local area.

The 12 month pilot is the first time a court in England or Wales will advertise for community groups to come forward with work to be done. This means offenders will make amends for their crimes to the community by carrying out tasks that benefit local people.

Justice Minister Rt Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP said:

“Everyone agrees that there must be public confidence in the criminal justice system and that includes sentencing. But, I know in my area, where the offender is not sent to prison people think he or she has got away with it.

“Now the public will be able to say what work they want offenders to do and they will be able to see for themselves that it has been done.

“From bringing derelict areas and buildings back into public use, clearing church yards, repairing park benches or removing graffiti, offenders will repay their debt to society to make the community a better place to live.

“By making amends for the harm they have caused and putting something back into the community, offenders are not only being punished for the crimes they commit, but local people will have safer and improved facilities and victims as well as the community literally see justice being done.”

Six and a half million hours of court imposed unpaid work are performed by offenders in England and Wales every year. Nearly 70,000 hours of that work will be done in Lambeth and Southwark in the next 12 months.

Currently, police (through Safer Neighbourhood Panels), probation and councils engage the community to identify what unpaid work offenders do and judges and magistrates decide how many hours. Now the court is taking this a step further and wants to hear directly from the community. Suggestions made to the court will be assessed by probation and if found suitable will be undertaken. The hours worked can vary from 40 to 300 and offenders are expected to undertake a minimum of six hours a week and to have completed their ordered hours within 12 months.

 

Notes to Editors

1.      The pilot starts on 4 June

2.      Adverts will be placed in the South London Press and Southwark News asking community groups to come forward

3.      When the work is completed a plaque will go up acknowledging the community group and Camberwell Green magistrates’ court

ENDS

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