Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Five-day week community sentences

Jobless criminals will have to do a five-day week of hard work, including one day hunting for a job, under new proposals for community sentences.

Prisons and probation minister Crispin Blunt said unemployed offenders will be forced to work a minimum of 28 hours over four days, with the fifth day spent looking for full-time work.

Previously Community Payback programmes could be spread out over 12 months, with some offenders working for just six hours a week.

Speaking at a programme in Croydon, south London, Mr Blunt said the measures would make for more intensive unpaid work and help rehabilitate offenders.

Community Payback will also be more immediate, imposed within seven days of sentence rather than two weeks.

"If you are unemployed and on Community Payback you shouldn't be sitting idle at home watching daytime television or hanging about with your mates on a street corner, you should be out paying back to your community through hard, honest work," Mr Blunt said.

The Ministry of Justice said courts will continue to decide on the total hours of Community Payback an offender must complete, but local managers will decide how many they do each week.

But an unemployed 21-year-old, from Croydon, said he had completed 10 hours of 150 hours of Community Payback handed to him about a month and a half ago for keeping three illegal dogs in his one-bedroom flat.

"You can't look for a job for one day. You can't have one day of looking nine till five, you won't get nowhere," he said.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, said: "Previous attempts to have offenders doing payback all week have failed because they would have lost their Jobseeker's Allowance as they would have been unavailable to seek work. This proposal gets round that problem."


From Belfast Telegraph