Children’s play areas have been brightened up and pathways cleared across Scotland by people carrying out sentences in the community.

Despite the challenges of a global pandemic around 300,000 hours of unpaid work have been done across Scotland in a year by people completing community payback orders (CPOs).

The information is included in the annual CPO report for 2020-21, produced by Community Justice Scotland, the national body responsible for reducing reoffending.

The report also shows how social workers supervised and supported people dealing with mental health and substance misuse with their recovery through CPOs.

It also highlights significant challenges faced during the pandemic throughout 2020-21. Unpaid work continued where possible but adjustments had to be made to keep people and communities safe.

Projects completed included helping brighten up children’s play areas, supporting foodbanks, maintaining open spaces, providing community support and environmental projects.

Innovative solutions helped some people complete unpaid work hours during the pandemic and manage other CPO requirements issued by the court to keep communities safe and reduce further offending.

Community justice is where people who have broken the law are held to account and supported to reconnect and contribute to their communities.

Where it is safe to do so, people who commit certain crimes receive community-based sentences. These can include treatment for underlying issues such as drug or alcohol addiction, unpaid work, fines and compensation or restrictions of liberty such as electronic tagging and curfews.

The evidence shows community justice can help people stop breaking the law again leading to fewer victims and safer communities.

CPOs are designed to make Scotland safer by supervising and supporting people to improve the way they live in their own community.

Richard Thomson, report author and improvement lead from Community Justice Scotland, said: “The pandemic has been a unique challenge over the past year for everyone. But where possible community payback orders, which include unpaid work have continued in communities across Scotland.

“Services have found innovative solutions to help people fulfil some of their unpaid work hours and other activities required from outside projects to home working and online learning.

“Community sentences allow people to repay harm caused and address any underlying issues which led to them offending such as mental health, drug and alcohol problems.

“Due to restrictions and lockdowns, services have had to adapt and find ways to support people to complete unpaid hours safely.

“The evidence shows that sentences served in the community are more effective than a short prison term in reducing reoffending. This means fewer victims of crime and a safer Scotland for all.”

>>Download the report here

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