'Payback' offenders get stuck in

OFFENDERS put to work as part of their sentence have had a ­positive i mpact on their local communities.

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Eco gardens, allotments, pathways, play and seating areas were created across North Lanarkshire as ­offenders, supervised by North Lanarkshire Council's Restorative Justice Team, delivered more than 161,000 hours of unpaid work last year.

Improving local parks, helping build new sports ­facilities, building wooden furniture for schools and churches and grass cutting are just some of the ways Community Payback was carried out.

And during last year's ­severe weather, offenders carried out unpaid work to grit paths and clear snow.

This work was targeted at helping some of the most vulnerable people, including those living in residential sheltered housing and ­attending day care services.

Maureen Hughes, service manager for Restorative Justice in North Lanarkshire, said: "It's been one of the busiest years yet for our restorative justice team and the offenders carrying out Community Payback Orders.

"Funding secured through the proceeds of crime from the Scottish Government allowed the purchase of equipment and materials which bolstered our capability and speed in carrying out complex projects.

"Our officers work with offenders not only on a range of community projects but to help deliver group work programmes addressing issues including victim awareness, anger management, alcohol and drug misuse, domestic violence and road traffic violations.

"This valuable educational support helps to reduce further offending and promote good citizenship."

The feedback from groups, who benefited from the work carried out, has been positive.

The Allanton Nursery Project saw offenders adding furniture to the nursery's garden.

Audra McPhee, treasurer of the project, said: "The work Community Payback squads did for the nursery was invaluable.

"The work was carried out to a very high standard and everyone in the school will benefit over the coming years."

stef.lach@eveningtimes.co.uk

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