DOMINIC RAAB: Offenders must clean up their act with hard graft and help the communities they have harmed
Criminals are a blight to their communities.
Community Payback schemes are so important because they allow local people to see how offenders must make amends. That’s why I am expanding them across the country.
Under this Government, offenders carry out five million hours of Community Payback a year in ‘high-visibility’ vests – doing real hard graft.
They are cleaning up the neighbourhoods they’ve harmed – in our cities, towns and rural communities.
And they are supporting the aims of the Daily Mail-backed Great British Spring Clean campaign – in particular, by keeping our beautiful waterways tidy.
The Justice Secretary (left) has signed the first ever deal with a national charity which will allow a massive expansion of unpaid work schemes for convicted criminals
I believe it’s important that criminals are punished, but also given a chance to do something positive – which is important for them, and for the public to see.
So, I am forging links between the Ministry of Justice’s national Community Payback scheme, charities and local community organisations.
Our new deal with the Canal and River Trust means offenders will clear litter, tidy towpaths and maintain some of our most treasured landscapes along the 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.
Yesterday, I met offenders in Birmingham working with the trust to clean up a towpath where visitors from around the world will walk to stadiums hosting the Commonwealth Games this summer.
It was striking to see offenders, once the scourge of their local neighbourhoods, now taking pride in reviving them.
Recruitment begins today of 500 extra staff to oversee work by teams of offenders, who have been ordered to carry out ‘Community Payback’ as part of their punishment.
Of course, doing a job from start to finish and working as a team is also giving those offenders a sense of purpose and direction.
As Justice Secretary, I want to tap the potential of these local initiatives, driving down reoffending.
I am putting £90million of extra Government investment into Community Payback and recruiting hundreds of extra staff to increase the number of unpaid work hours delivered by offenders, from five million to eight million a year.
Community Payback is part of our wider plan to cut crime.
Only this Conservative Government is serious about punishing criminals, standing up for victims and protecting the public.