Community service is not a soft option, says Home Affairs Minister

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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Community service is anything but an easy option, insists the Home Affairs Minister.

Juan Watterson said community service orders are playing an increasingly important role in efforts to reduce re-offending.

They are handed down by the courts as an alternative to custodial sentences and requires individuals to perform unpaid work in their own time - often at weekends.

It is estimated that more than 500 days (3,500 hours) of unpaid works will be completed by weekend work groups in 2016. This is an increase on 2014 and 2015 when about 430 days (3,000 hours) were recorded.

Minister Watterson said: ‘This is about putting in prison only the most serious, persistent or violent offenders.

‘Community services orders are definitely not a soft option. This type of community payback is a positive way of holding people to account for the harm they have caused.

‘Offenders are required to show discipline and commitment, often over many weeks, to complete the orders imposed by the courts, while their work improves the environment and helps local communities and charities.

‘There is also growing evidence to suggest that restorative justice of this nature reduces the frequency of re-offending, which strengthens our efforts to combat crime and protect vulnerable people.’

Notable schemes carried out by community service work teams include the construction of several miles of off-road cycle trails and paths in Archallagan plantation, helping clean the outside of the Onchan Silver Band hall, cleaning up Onchan Pensioners Club and assisting Beach Buddies to remove thousands of tonnes of rubbish from the Manx coastline.

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