Community Payback

Every year in the Thames Valley (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire), around 2,000 people who have been convicted of an offence carry out a total of almost 300,000 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Most of this work is to do with regeneration, bringing derelict public areas back into use for the community. This can be things like clearing undergrowth and litter away from churchyards, parks and streams, and repairing park benches and playground equipment.

For many offenders, the scheme offers them the sense of literally paying something back to the community. The experience of having to keep a regular commitment and follow clear rules not only makes Community Payback an effective punishment but valuable ‘life skills’ training as well.

Community Payback can also be an important resource for getting practical things done in the community.

In January 2010, Thames Valley Probation re-launched Community Payback in Thames Valley in order to make Neighbourhood Policing teams and also Neighbourhood Action Groups (NAGs) aware of Community Payback.

Thames Valley Probation produced three two-minute videos explaining what the scheme is all about, plus notes of guidance.

Thames Valley Probation has been running Community Payback for more than 30 years. It used to be called Community Service. The change of name to Community Payback makes the point clearly that this nationwide sentence is all about offenders giving their time and effort back to the community in a visible way.