18 June 2009>
Following a large scale vote across the country to give the public a greater say in how criminals should pay back to the community, the public have decided that offenders in the Caerphilly county borough must first complete Community Payback activity in Churchill Park in Caerphilly.
A total of 18,000 people have voted for what Community Payback they would like to see offenders in 54 areas across the country carry out first from a list of five projects per area. The three-week vote was part of the Justice Seen, Justice Done campaign to raise awareness of Community Payback as a tough punishment for criminals, following the launch of high visibility orange jackets that offenders must now wear.
Community Safety Manager, Howard Rees said, "Although sentencing is tougher now than in the past, research suggests that members of the public often do not believe that offenders face adequate consequences for the crimes they commit.
By working with our partners at Gwent Probation Service, we are ensuring that justice is being seen to be done – the fact that offenders now have to wear highly visible orange jackets when carrying out community payback is an important step in helping to make our local residents aware that offenders are facing tough consequences for their actions and that community payback isn't a soft option.
I would like to thank everyone that voted for their local area to receive Community Payback activity – we have been overwhelmed with the number of votes we have received."
Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw said, "The public response to this campaign clearly shows that the public want to have a say in Community Payback and want to see that justice is being done in their community.
As I have said it is crucial that the public should have a say in the community punishments offenders receive and that they have a right to know what offenders are doing in their neighbourhood to repay for the wrongs committed.
We are determined to open up the justice system in the Caerphilly county borough and across England and Wales. Recent steps to do this include the appointment of a dedicated Victims Champion, giving distinctive orange jackets to offenders and now ensuring the public know they have a say in punishing offenders."
The scheme was promoted in local newspapers and on local radio to let local people know about Community Payback and that they could have a say in the projects to be worked on across England and Wales.
The roll-out of visible Community Payback across England and Wales built on a recommendation from the Government's Crime and Justice Adviser Louise Casey's review, "Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime", published a year ago today outlining the importance of justice being visible. It seeks to improve the community's confidence in Community Payback as a punishment so that people will be more likely to come forward to report crime, give evidence in court and support their neighbours to do the same.
Every year over 55,000 criminals receive Community Payback – carrying out over 6 million hours of physical work on behalf of their communities to payback for their crimes. A poll of 1,000 people conducted by MORI in November 2008 found that more needed to be done to raise awareness of the scheme.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said, "It is vital that the public see that justice is being done and Community Payback is a crucial part of that. By making it possible for the public to have their say on which projects offenders should carry out in their communities, we are giving the law-abiding majority a voice, which in turn helps build their confidence in the criminal justice system. The key to ongoing success is ensuring that the public continue to be aware of Community Payback and understand how they can get involved in seeing justice being done."
Government Crime and Justice Adviser Louise Casey said, "The people of the Caerphilly county borough want to know that criminals are being made to pay back for their crimes. Community Payback schemes make this a reality and, very importantly, they also now give the public a say in what criminals must actually do to serve their punishment and pay back to local communities.
Hopefully this will give local people confidence that the system is on their side and that punishment can be tough – then they might be more likely to report crimes and help the police bring more offenders to justice. I'm looking forward to seeing the projects in the Caerphilly county borough completed so that they will be of real benefit to the community."
Courts are now able to hand out tougher and more intense penalties for a range of crimes to offenders who are ordered to carry out work in the community.
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