Offenders help at local projects

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Local projects have benefitted from hundreds of hours of Community Service, according to figures from the Probation Board.

The Drop Inn charity shop, Banbridge Elim and the ReStore project, which restores and recycles furniture, all have offenders carrying out unpaid voluntary work after Community Service orders were imposed by the Court.

There is also a Community Service squad that regularly helps with the environmental upkeep of Huntly Wood, which is open to the public.

Figures compiled for 2012-13 by the Probation Board show that offenders on Community Service in the Rural South area, which includes Banbridge, Portadown and Newry, have completed 337 court orders totalling 21,200 hours of unpaid work to benefit local communities.

Acting Director, Cheryl Lamont said: “PBNI 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 at the same time 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.

“This was recognised in a Criminal Justice Inspection report last year which stated, ‘The value of offenders undertaking unpaid work as reparation for their offending should not be under-estimated.”

Area Manager Stephen Hamilton added: “In the last year 21,200 hours of unpaid work has been delivered equating to over £134,000 worth of payback to the community.

“Many communities within the Rural South area have benefitted 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 Board 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 they can nominate a project for offenders to undertake at or email