A pilot project designed to speed up the punishment of low level offenders sentenced to a Community Payback Order has seen encouraging results. During its first nine months 92% of offenders on the pilot were sent out to pay back the community within 24 hours. Early initial results also show that 98% are starting their manual labour within seven days.
The ‘one stop shop’ system involved community service and social work staff being housed directly opposite Glasgow Sheriff Court, meaning offenders can be transferred immediately from the dock down to be assessed, allocated, and then taken directly to their first community payback work squad placement.
A full evaluation will take place at the end of the pilot period, but if successful, the model could be replicated elsewhere in Scotland.
“We want to see low level offenders out paying back communities by doing some tough manual labour,” said Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Minister. “Punishment should be tough and justice should be immediate which is why we are piloting this new initiative. The aim is to get these low level offenders out doing manual work to improve communities within hours of being sentenced.”
“All the evidence shows that getting offenders out doing some manual labour in the community works far better than short term prison sentences and actually stops them committing further crimes,” said Mr MacAskill, commenting on Scotland’s poor re-offending rate for low level offenders. “The facts speak for themselves with three quarters of those sentenced to a short prison sentence of three months or less going on to re-offend within two years of getting out, but in direct comparison, three out of five given a tough community sentence do not.”