New base officially opens in Dumfries for Community Payback Orders

OFFENDERS working on community projects as a means to pay back society for their crimes have a new base in Dumfries.

The new Community Payback building in King Street, Dumfries, was officially opened on Friday afternoon by Councillor John Dougan who is chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s social work services committee.

It will be used as a base to supervise, facilitate and organise community payback orders.

Community payback orders have replaced the previous probation, community service and supervised attendance orders.

They can be used by courts who do not want to give an offender a custodial sentence, or one less than three months.

In Dumfries and Galloway most short sentences are for non-payment of fines.

Restriction, rehabilitation, reparation and re-integration forms part of the single community sentence available to courts under the new legislation.

Community payback orders can include unpaid work, supervision, attendance at group work programmes and attendance at services to address substance misuse or mental health issues.

The unpaid work is organised by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s criminal justice social work service and those on orders are expected to start work within a day of it being made by the courts. If they do not comply the cases will be reported back to court.

Councillor Dougan said that in 2008 the council realised the need for a new facility and said he was delighted with the new building.

He said: “Sending people to prison for short sentences is not always best for victims, offenders or their communities.

“Local services are now ready to follow the route of restriction, rehabilitation, reparation and re-integration for those on community payback orders. This includes a range of unpaid work activity in the community and at the new workshops.

Director of social work services John Alexander says the building was much needed: “Unpaid work projects allow offenders to make payback to their communities, working hours that would cost communities thousands of pounds, eg: beach cleans and pathway maintenance.

“Other requirements ensure that there will be regular meetings with those subject to orders, linking with other key services in relation to housing, employment and substance misuses, as well as the delivery of change programmes that address a range of offence types.”

The programmes include a new approach to domestic abuse that includes work with victims and their families.

On Friday visitors were given the opportunity to look around the new unit and see some of the work done first hand and through displays.

This demonstrated the breadth of the work carried out by people with community payback orders.