West Yorkshire’s criminals have been forced to do £2m worth of manual labour in a bid to pay their debts to society.
Offenders are often ordered to do community payback schemes, unpaid work including removing graffiti, litter picking, clearing parks and cemeteries, renovating buildings and work in charity shops.
West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) which is responsible for supervising offenders and ensuring they comply with their sentence says it has delivered 264,790 hours of work in the past 12 months.
With the national wage standing at £7.83 that equates to more than £2.07m of work delivered.
Martin Davies, chief executive of West Yorkshire CRC, said: “Community payback provides a tough, effective and visible punishment requiring people to undertake challenging work while giving something back to communities where they live.
“It also provides an opportunity for people to turn their experience into a positive one by picking up new skills that can help them towards paid employment and leading more stable, positive and crime-free lives.”
Magistrates or judges can sentence offenders to carry out anything from 40 to 300 hours of unpaid work as part of their order.
Community payback must include a minimum of a day’s work – lasting at least seven hours – once a week.
People can also be sentenced to intensive community payback orders which mean they must complete 28 hours of work every week.
All projects combine hard work and the chance for the participant to develop skills.
It is also a punishment as the individual is giving up their time to carry out the work.
Community sentences can be given for crimes including damaging property, benefit fraud and assault.
They are often handed out by judges and magistrates when the offender is appearing at court for the first time or when it is thought such a sentence may be more likely to stop an offender committing crimes than a prison sentence.