Local, low level, offenders have been carrying out unpaid work to tidy up some space in Osterley and Spring Grove Ward as part of the Community Payback Scheme.
Located at St Mary’s Tennis Club since Autumn 2020, they cleared rubbish on the nearby sports ground, trimmed overgrown bushes, painted boundary walls, the inside and outside of the pavilion, mown grass, undertaken planting and have currently been sweeping recent leaf fall.
Not confined to within the boundary of St Mary’s, the participants, with equipment and bag supplies from Hounslow Highways, also litter pick locally. They have, this October, done a smashing job weeding the rather special crazy paved edge of the Musgrave Road footway between Wood Lane and College Road receiving compliments from neighbours.
At St Mary’s, offenders are supervised (by Trish of the London Community Rehabilitation Company) and must wear orange high-vis jackets, allowing them to be easily identified by the public; recognisable as doing work to improve local communities.
The Community Payback Scheme is a nationwide programme run by the National Probation Service and sentences of between 40 – 300 hours can be issued to individuals by courts, depending on the severity of their crime and previous offences.
When an offender starts on a project, they are also offered online education, training and employment courses if there is a need and these contribute towards their unpaid work hours by up to 30%.
In general, and it’s nothing new, this initiative has offered visible improvements to local areas, helps to reduce fear of crime, and also equips offenders with essential life skills which aim to prevent them reoffending.
Following my encounter with the offenders and Trish at Musgrave Road, last year, I arranged, as Mayor, a meeting between the service and senior officers of the London Borough of Hounslow with a view of offering more opportunities in similar settings and understand that a partnership is developing.
Also working at Gunnersbury Park, St Richards School, Hounslow Youth Centre and Hounslow Allotments and at various charity shops, Oxfam, Cancer Research and Sue Ryder; Community Payback completed 1132 hours of unpaid work within projects on the borough during the month of November 2020.
I have visited a couple of times since and remain impressed with the contribution to improving the Ward environment.