Payback Time in Thurrock

A JOINT “Community Payback” scheme is being launched in Thurrock where convicted offenders,ordered to do unpaid work by the courts, will be working on projects which enhance the local area.

Thurrock Council’s Community Safety team, Essex Probation and the Thurrock Community Safety Partnership have announced a pilot scheme for the borough.

Community Payback Schemes, previously known as Community Service, have been running in Essex for over 30 years, undertaking a total of 350,000 hours of unpaid work each year, which works out at around £2 million worth of free work for the county.

The Thurrock scheme provides for Essex Probation to plan the unpaid work with individuals, community groups, partner agencies and Thurrock Council departments.

Not only is the labour free of charge, but the work also provides the offenders with practical skills that could help them find a job later. Local colleges can also work alongside Probation to improve offenders’ basic skills where needed.

Beneficiaries have to provide the necessary materials and resources for the job required. The types of work that might be undertaken include ground clearance, landscaping, painting/decorating, plastering, fencing, small build/construction, cleaning, upkeep of open and public spaces, installation of disabled access measures, residential play areas, recycling projects, graffiti removal, general gardening projects and school play areas.

To meet with Probation’s requirements, the projects must benefit the local community; not take paid work away from others; not make a profit; be challenging, demanding, worthwhile and constructive; and the offenders must be seen to be putting something back into the community.

Cllr Ben Maney, Thurrock Council’s Cabinet member for Public Protection, said: “Community Payback is a way of improving our local environment, ensuring the public see offenders carrying out their sentences and working with the offenders to give them new skills that will help stop them appearing in court again. I would encourage people and organisations to get in touch with their ideas for projects.”

Alex Bamber, Director of Probation in Thurrock, added: “I am delighted that we are working with Thurrock Council to plan Community Payback for the local area. The involvement of Thurrock Council will enhance the work we already do, and ensure that Thurrock residents get the best out of the hours on offer.”

Referrals from Thurrock Council and its Partners will be co-ordinated by Thurrock Council, Community Safety (Contact 01375 652581). Individuals, small groups and associations can apply direct to Probation on 01375 382285, or through the Essex Probation website, essexprobationtrust.org.uk..

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