It was with great pleasure that our local probation staff read Doug Fullbrook’s article ‘Praise for the Payback team’ (Citizen January 1). He pointed out that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Probation Trust Community Payback Teams have contributed much to improve the lot of those living in the area. However, it was suggested that the service may not continue to be free and work could ‘remain undone unless money changes hands’. We would like to assure your readers that there are no plans to change the way in which work of this kind is funded. In the case of Community Payback, when work of this nature is carried out, it is possible to ask for financial and non-financial contributions provided : It does not give the beneficiary an unfair advantage; The nature of the work and the beneficiary’s business does not conflict with the aims of the National Offender Management Service, or be likely to damage it; The work is for the benefit of the community as a whole and has a social purpose.
When contributions to costs are made or requested, no payment is made for offender labour. It is also important to make clear that the primary purpose of Community Payback is to provide benefit to communities through unpaid labour and any income generated is secondary.
In 2012 the Ministry of Justice said that Community Payback can add value to the work of local authorities and other bodies and directed that providers should seek to reduce the cost of the sentence to the taxpayer by generating income. The work should be restricted to that which could not otherwise be undertaken. Also providers must ensure that beneficiaries are not exploiting competitive advantage by the provision of free labour. The essence of Community Payback is to ensure that offenders sentenced to unpaid work in the community give something back to society, whilst under supervision. In the case of the work at Newton in the Isle no charges have been or are intended to be made as the work was with voluntary community groups. We look forward to the continuing good working relationship with the groups in Newton for the benefit of all.
Director of Interventions
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Probation Trust