Communities across Scotland that have benefited from more than 1.3 million hours of work by people completing Community Payback Orders in 2014/15 are ’overwhelmingly positive’ about the scheme.
A new report published by the Scottish Government reveals that communities across the country appreciate the high standard of work - whether it is repairing fallen gravestones, cleaning graffiti, helping the elderly with their garden, repairing paths and adding improvements to path networks or working in charity shops.
Scottish Borders Council operates the Community Payback programme in the region and reports a positive reaction from towns and village across the region to the work the teams have completed.
A council spokesperson said: “The Criminal Justice Unpaid Work teams are really useful to get work done on countryside paths that would be really difficult to get done by other means.
“Recent work has included work in support of community councils including a woodland path at Towerburn in Jedburgh and pathwork in the St Boswells area and at Coldstream and Hawick.
“The supervisors ensure that the work is of a good quality. This is a valuable contribution to the work on core paths, Scotland’s Great Trails and the wider path network in the Scottish Borders.”
In Berwickshire, the Criminal Justice Unpaid work team is currently working on seats, steps and other pathworks on the Eye Water footpath. This work was organised through the Countryside Access team.
SBC has heard from a number of appreciative communities where work has been done.
“Melrose and District Community Council and Melrose in Bloom plus members of our community and the very many visitors to our town benefit from and appreciate the positive results of the work done by the “unpaid work” teams, and hope that the workers themselves derive some satisfaction from this too,” said Val Miller, vice-chair of both Melrose and District Community Council and Melrose in Bloom.
Leslie Mitchell from Lauder Tennis Club wrote to SBC to thank the team for “the fantastic work you have completed on the access path to, and around, the courts”.
“The team have been exemplary in their work ethic, application and communicating helpful advice.
“The fact that we now have safe access, especially for children from a quiet path instead of only getting to the courts via the A68 is a huge step forward for the club and something that we simply would not have been able to entertain without the huge effort and input of your Criminal Justice Team.”
Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of Community Payback Orders imposed by the courts continues to rise since their introduction five years ago.
“This report highlights the excellent work being done across local authorities to deliver robust and credible CPOs which are delivering real benefits for our communities and are helping to reduce reoffending.
“The evidence shows our approach is working. Recorded crime in Scotland is at a 41-year low.”