In recent months offenders have helped to clear sections of the Island’s greenways and to rejuvenate popular beauty spots after the devastating snow storms.
Community service orders are imposed by the courts as an alternative to prison sentences and require individuals to perform unpaid work in their own time.
Projects are carried out under the direction of a Probation Officer and Community Service Supervisor and are aimed at ensuring offenders make an effective contribution to the community.
Tasks such as painting and decorating, ground work, gardening and general maintenance are usually completed as part of a weekend work group on behalf of a charitable trust or non-profit making organisation.
Examples of projects undertaken during 2013 as part of community service orders include the restoration of Glen Wyllin campsite, improvements to local greenways and maintenance of Sulby Claddagh.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK, whose Department is responsible for the Prison and Probation Service, said: ‘Community service orders are an effective alternative to custody and are in no way a soft option. Offenders require a disciplined and committed approach in order to repay their debt to the local community.’
He continued: ‘I am currently leading a major reform of the Island’s criminal justice system which is seeking to improve key policy areas in respect of crime prevention, sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders. We must explore more innovative approaches to restorative justice, as there is a growing recognition that prison should be reserved for only the most serious criminals.’
Home Affairs Member Mike Coleman MLC has been closely involved in supporting community service work. He added: ‘Community service orders are a good example of how offenders can be held accountable for their actions in a way that benefits the community.’
Weekend work groups helped to repair damage caused at Glen Wyllin by the worst snow storms experienced in the Island for more than 50 years. Supervised offenders replaced broken fencing, rebuilt paths, drained water from the children’s playground and painted woodwork to prepare the glen and campsite for the busy TT and summer periods.
Another project saw the Probation Service work in conjunction with the Department of Infrastructure to identify a number of greenways that required clearing. Community service work groups set about widening tracks and cutting back briars and gorse to make the Manx countryside more accessible to users, including a section of greenway from Greeba to Cornelly Mines.
Offenders have also been involved in work at Sulby Claddagh to maintain and decorate the toilet block and to paint fences and marker posts.