Scheme still going strong after 40 years

Offenders carrying out Community Payback.
Offenders carrying out Community Payback.
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A PROJECT which gets offenders to carry out work in the community as part of their punishment is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary.

Community Payback – previously known as community service and community punishment – is seen as one of the Probation Service’s great success stories.

Launched in 1972, its aim was to deprive offenders of their leisure time rather than their liberty as they carried out manual work for the benefit of the community.

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.”

In North Tyneside, offenders worked 32,073 Community Payback hours during 2011-12, working closely with North Tyneside Council while projects include graffiti removal, gardening, painting and decorating of void properties.

Additionally they work with Backworth Miners’ Association and carry out ground maintenance, gardening and indoor painting and decorating, and also carry out a full programme of park maintenance at Richardson Dees Park.

Community Payback started working at The Meadows Community Centre in Meadowell 20 years ago after the centre was burned to the ground during the riots.

Officials did a lot of work to help to get it open again and have worked there ever since carrying out anything from litter picking to reception duties; ground clearance to annual decoration of the centre – so far working 2,282 hours at the centre.

Carole Bell MBE, project manager at the Meadows, said: “Looking back over the years, it is amazing what has been achieved through this partnership, not only the improvements to the land, but also the integration of the offenders back into the community.”