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Last update: June 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm

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Offenders can help communities recover from a crisis!

Already in 2010, the UK has seen several communities in crisis being helped to recover by offenders and convicts:

Cumbria is still living with the effects of the devastating damage caused by the floods of November 2009. Now a scheme, developed by Cumbria Probation Service, Cumbria Constabulary and the local authority, sees offenders on Community Payback playing a big part in helping the affected communities recover.  This includes: removing silt; rebuilding allotments and memorial gardens; supporting rehoused families and generally removing rubbish and tidying the areas up. Further information can be found at:

http://www.info4local.gov.uk/filter/?item=1467453

Similarly in Scotland community service squads have been put to work to support local communities, including some of the most vulnerable in society, having to face the heaviest snow and cold temperatures seen for decades.  Teams have been used to clear the pavements around: hospitals, schools and the homes of elderly people. Offenders have also helped deliver some essential services to the elderly including food and aids and adaptation equipment.

It would appear that the affected communities see this new approach to recovering from emergencies as win, win.  Not only benefitting from practical support but also ensuring that criminals are making reparation for the crimes they have committed, often directly to the communities they have wronged.

Should Birmingham follow suit?

Martin Tolman, City Council Emergency Planning Manager, thinks so.

‘Last year, in the UK  over 62,000 offenders completed Community Payback and over eight million hours of work was undertaken. Surely, alongside the work of the various agencies, and indeed community self-help, it would be sensible for this resource to be put to work to support those communities that have suffered the effects of major emergencies. However, rather than waiting for Birmingham’s next emergency to take place, I am suggesting that the Birmingham Resilience Group works with the local probation service, West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council to agree a formal arrangement that would be able to activate these resources very quickly.’

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