Headlines: March 15th, 2005

Several thousand people in ten areas around England and Wales have voted for schemes in which offenders can perform important work cleaning up prominent eyesores and enhancing the local environment. They were invited to vote for one of five possible projects and work on the winning projects has started now in ‘Clean-Up Week’ A further short list of projects will be started later in the year.’Clean-Up Week’ is designed to raise the public’s awareness and understanding of community punishments and community sentences. During the week teams of offenders will be put to work on a variety of projects including the regeneration of public rights of way, clearing up cemeteries, and installing community safety features in council estates.

Giving the public a say in the projects offenders tackle is part of the preparation for the new community order that will be introduced in April. The sentences for those convicted of a criminal offence will include unpaid work, mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, exclusion and curfew orders and behavioural programmes. Every year offenders serving community punishment orders carry out more than 5.5 million hours of unpaid work.

Paul Goggins, Minister for Prisons and Probation said: “Community punishment is an increasingly important part of the criminal justice system, providing an opportunity for offenders to be properly punished for their crimes and perform valuable work that is of genuine benefit to the local community. The projects being carried out during ‘Clean-Up Week’ are excellent examples of how the public can play an important role in identifying the best work for offenders to be given.”