Plans announced by Crispin Blunt MP, the Prisons Minister are being welcomed by the Island’s MP, Andrew Turner.
The Department of Justice proposes that unemployed criminals who receive a community sentence will be forced to work for the good of the community for 4 days a week. They will also spend a further day looking for paid work. Tasks will include clearing up litter, cleaning graffiti and improving public areas.
The proposals form part of the Government’s commitment to overhauling sentencing to ensure that community sentences are seen as an effective punishment. At present those sentenced to ‘community payback’ can spend as little as six hours a week on the programme. From next year they will be required to work at least 28 hours over four days. If they don’t look for work on the fifth day they will risk losing any benefits they receive.
Mr Turner said :
“For far too long community sentences have been a ‘soft option’. Magistrates and judges are well aware of that, so custodial sentences have been used as an alternative. Prison is expensive, can break up families and leads to higher re-offending rates. Proper community payback for low-level crimes can act as both punishment and deterrent, without the damage that custody can cause.
“The scheme will also bring structure to the lives of criminals who all too often have never experienced a working week. We must break the cycle of crime and the high rates of re-offending and this will play a part. Over the years many people have told me they think low-level crimes should be punished in this way. The Government is catching up with what the public want to see. Many law-abiding people work hard for long hours – I see no reason why criminals shouldn’t be forced to do the same.”