City gets a sparkle thanks to efforts of offenders

OFFENDERS have been cleaning up across the city by doing compulsory unpaid work in the community.

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Offenders cleaning up back courts in the Alexandra Park area in Glasgow
Offenders cleaning up back courts in the Alexandra Park area in Glasgow

In the last year, almost 2400 community payback orders were handed out by Glasgow courts.

They were introduced in February 2011 as a replacement for the traditional community service sentence.

The orders put criminals to work in local communities doing jobs like cleansing, household work individuals cannot do themselves or charity work.

Recently, residents in the Alexandra Park area of the city experienced first hand the benefits of community payback orders.

Under the supervision of Greater Easterhouse Supporting Hands (GESH), offenders have been cleaning back-court areas which had been ignored by private landlords.

Alex Cumlin, the GESH supervisor, said: "We are often impressed at how, when given the opportunity to give something back, these men and women go the extra mile.

"And on this job, the compliments from the residents have been very rewarding to all involved.

"When we arrived, the site was foul.

"We have had to call in the council to help with infested clothes and discarded syringes but now we are a week ahead of schedule and ready for our next job."

Organisers of the clean-up say it has benefitted not only residents but the individuals doing the work.

One former offender who completed their community payback order at Alexandra Park said: "None of us are proud of what we have done and why we are here but I think most of us are glad we are putting something back.

"I have picked up litter, shovelled snow, cut trees, built a ramp to someone's home and this week we have helped people to use their back courts, There must have been years of trash we shifted but it now looks good."

Maureen Ferrie, director of GESH, said the community payback orders help to offenders to find a useful place in society.

She said: "These guys come to us from the courts and are required to work as their punishment but when they get here they work hard.

"Quite a few have stayed on volunteering."

Elaine McDougall, convener of Glasgow's Community Justice Authority, said the community payback orders are there to help communities.

She added: "It is a real sentence, a punishment, and council staff make sure it is a sentence.

"But they also work with the offender to use the sentence to address problems linked to their behaviour, to improve skills and where possible, improve employability making it less likely someone will re-offend."

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.co.uk

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