Commissioner spends a Sunday with Community Payback teams

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Grove spent Sunday 20 March out and about with Humberside Community Rehabilitation Company to see the work being carried by offenders sentenced to carry out unpaid work in the community.

Community Payback is a form of punishment given by courts in place of a custodial sentence, and involves offenders ‘giving something back’ to the community.  Local groups and charities can also nominate projects for Community Payback teams to undertake.

Matthew described his day:

“I am a big supporter of Community Payback as it can be so much more effective than a simple fine in deterring offenders from committing further crimes.  On Sunday morning I visited the Humber Bridge Country Park, where one of the rangers told me Community Payback is making a huge difference to the upkeep of the park and without their involvement some of the work would just not get done.  The tasks undertaken range from litter picking to clearing areas of debris and fallen wood and preparing materials for the regular school visits to the park.  At weekends most of the Payback participants are people with jobs and after a full working week, having to spend their valuable weekends on a further seven hour day for no pay when they should be resting or enjoying their leisure time was not something they liked and they made it clear to me they did not want to put themselves in this situation again.

“The afternoon was spent on the Westcliff estate in Scunthorpe where a neighbourhood group are using Community Payback labour and providing supervision through trained volunteers.  The majority of the individuals doing unpaid work here were unemployed and many were seeing beyond the punishment element and actually enjoying the experience of working alongside volunteers to make a difference to the community they live in.  The highlight of the day for me was meeting a disabled gentleman who’d had both legs amputated.  He was having his garden tidied and fence painted by the Payback team.  I hope the strength he is showing in his situation was as inspiring to those doing the work as it was to me.

“I discussed with the CRC managers opportunities to expand the scheme into other areas, for example litter picking on the sides of some of our major roads when they closed for maintenance.  Many of the offenders I spoke to said they would rather pay a fine than do Payback, as much of it is labour intensive, but this is a much more effective punishment than a fine and the feedback I get from members of the public is that they would like to see more.

“I was impressed with the work I saw being done and there are huge opportunities to expand Payback schemes for the benefit of the community.”

Amy Gilbert, Head of Operations, The Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company adds:

“Last year more than 61,000 hours of Community Payback were completed in Hull and the East Riding – equal to over £400,000 worth of work carried out to the benefit of local communities, when compared with the minimum wage rate.

“Community Payback is a punishment for breaking the law, but it is also a way for offenders to learn new skills and to support their rehabilitation. It teaches a work discipline by helping offenders focus on making other choices in their lives.

“Working in partnership remains an essential aspect of Payback. Increasingly we are working alongside staff and volunteers from our beneficiary organisations, whose direct involvement in the delivery of Community Payback enhances the experience on both sides.”