This punishment is public humiliation

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FOR two Saturdays, I have gone into Chatteris and seen a group of people cutting back the trees and bushes overhanging a footpath (they’ve done a good job).

Wearing hi-visibility vests, I thought they were employees of an agency or authority that had been appointed to make the footpath safer to use.

And then I saw the words: ‘Community Payback’ printed on the back of the vests.

I was left with a very uneasy and sad feeling; it simply didn’t feel right.

I now understand they are carrying out duties that have been ordered by the courts as punishment for crimes that the courts have deemed as having been committed by these individuals.

I fully agree that individuals that commit a crime should be punished.

However, I had, until now, always assumed the punishment this country’s courts deal out was a loss of freedom and choice in an individual’s day-to-day life.

It seems distasteful that punishment by the courts can also include public humiliation. In the past we branded cattle; these days, it appears, we brand people.

For me, public humiliation would be tantamount to torture - especially if I’d been wrongly convicted.