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Community Safety

Lambeth offenders pay back 47,000 hours to community

Offenders convicted of low level crime have rolled up their sleeves and paid back 47,000 hours of their time within twelve months to make the borough cleaner and greener.

Community Payback has supported a range of Lambeth Council projects from litter picking, rubbish removal, and community freshview services through a scheme which gives a community sentence to offenders convicted of low level crimes. Offenders have mucked in to give areas blighted by graffiti and vandalism a fresh lick of paint, cleaned windows and bins, and removed unwanted posters from local neighbourhoods. Latest reports reveal a total of 47,816 hours were completed by Community Payback from March 1, 2010 to March 1, 2011. Lambeth Council’s Community Safety service works in partnership with London Probation Trust to deliver the service.

Community Payback helped to keep the borough moving when it was out in force to grit side streets and clear pavements of ice and snow in Knights Hill and Gipsy Hill last week. The service has recently finished painting a building used by children with behavioural problems at Fenstanton School in Tulse Hill, and cleared weeds and tree stumps surrounding the Chatsworth Way War Memorial, West Norwood. Birbeck Place in Thurlow Park, was brightened up when the service painted railings and walls, cut back overgrown trees, bushes, and planted bulbs.

As well as benefitting residents and a range of voluntary, community, and faith groups, Community Payback has had a positive impact on offenders and their criminal behaviour. One offender, who cannot be named, had continuously breached his order and failed to carry out his required hours. He was asked the kind of work he wanted to do to ensure the order was completed without any further breaches. He said he had previously worked as a Chef but not regularly due to a ‘chaotic lifestyle’ before his sentence. He was placed at a charitable drop-in centre and enjoyed working there so much that he continued to volunteer after completing his order – and has gone on to become Head Chef.

Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Rachel Heywood, said:

“Community Payback is a great way of making offenders pay back for the crimes they have committed by giving something back to the community. The benefits are real and all the projects completed by offenders combine hard work and the chance for offenders to develop important life skills. They help to reduce the risk of re-offending, help to reintegrate offenders with their local communities and make our neighbourhoods safer places to live, work, and visit.”

Community Payback runs three to four days a week and offenders complete an average of 3,830 hours in a month. As part of a community sentence offenders are required to make reparation for their criminal activity. They must complete the allocated hours of unpaid work whilst wearing high visibility distinctive clothing labelled ‘Community Payback’.

Lambeth Council and London Probation Trust are looking for groups of residents and voluntary organisations who need some help from an individual or small group of offenders to assist local projects that benefit the local community at no cost. Advice and training is offered to local community groups, services, and voluntary organisations, should they wish to take advantage of the services provided by Community Payback and to take ownership of the work and supervision of offenders. All project suggestions must be for public, charity, or non-profit community benefit. We are currently working towards creating a fixed project area at Tulse Hill Station and using the empty piece of land as a site for offenders to gain skills in horticulture and make visible improvements to the surrounding area.

If you or any members of the public know of an area, location, or venue, that could benefit from the use of Community Payback offenders please call Community Payback on 020 8766 5700. Alternatively email payback@london.probation.gsi.gov.uk to find out more information or visit http://www.lambeth.gov.uk or http://www.london-probation.org.uk

For more information on the services Community Payback provides please contact Leigh-Anna Smith on 020 7926 2903.

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