Pride in payback – how Community Payback is improving our local communities


Katy Bourne with Paul Jones and a participant of Community Payback  

Last week, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne met with staff from the Community Payback Team at the Probation Service in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. They met at St Peter’s Church in Westhampnett, Chichester, to see one of Sussex’s Community Payback projects in action as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s annual campaign – ‘The Great British Spring Clean’ which runs from 25 March to 10 April.

Offenders of crimes such as property damage, benefit fraud or assault, may be given a community sentence as an alternative to prison where they must carry out unpaid work in their local areas. The sort of work undertaken includes cleaning graffiti, clearing litter and maintaining beauty spots.

With thousands of offenders being mobilised to support the Great British Spring Clean campaign, this is just one of the many Community Payback (CP) projects that has happened across the nation.

Members of the public can also nominate a project and have their say on what unpaid work is carried out by offenders in their local areas. 

During the visit, Mrs Bourne spoke to staff about the effectiveness of the scheme and how the projects not only help improve local communities but also help individuals to learn more about working as part of a team, decision-making and how they enforce an effective way to adapt behaviours.

Katy Bourne with a participant of Community Payback

Paul Jones, Head of Interventions in the Community  Payback team for the Probation Service in Kent, Surrey and  Sussex said: “As well as some of the obvious benefits of Community Payback there are numerous less visible benefits to this form of punishment and rehabilitation.

“Offenders talk about how CP makes a positive impact on their mental health and their self-esteem and how it also has an influence on their parenting as they are able to share a new-found interest in the outdoors and practical skills with their children.

“Community Payback delivers about 2,000 hours of work every week in Sussex alone, on a range of projects with a direct benefit to local communities.”

Mrs Bourne also spoke with those who had committed crimes and were now carrying out the unpaid work. Speaking about paying his debt back to society, a participant of CP told Mrs Bourne about how he is focusing on the new skill he has learnt and how he hopes to continue building on this and seek further employment in that field once his community sentence is over.

Mrs Bourne said: “I was delighted to visit St Peter’s Church in Westhampnett today where a Community Payback group were maintaining the grounds. It was great to hear from staff and the Vicar of the church just how important this work is in maintaining the beautiful churchyard for the benefit of parishioners.”