Criminals on community service allowed to carry out sentence at home

Criminals on community service are still allowed to carry out their unpaid work sentence from home a year after pandemic restrictions ended

  • Criminals did over 136,000 hours of unpaid work at home in the last 10 months
  • Tasks include making cards for charity and knitting hats or scarves for refugees 
  • Data shows number of at-home community hours higher in 2022 than lockdown  

Criminals on community service are still being allowed to ‘work from home’ – a year after pandemic restrictions ended.

Thieves, vandals, fraudsters and shoplifters have done more than 136,000 hours of unpaid work from their own living rooms in the past ten months alone. Tasks have included making greetings cards for charity and knitting hats and scarves for refugees.

Last night, critics accused the Government of insulting crime victims by failing to punish offenders. Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said: ‘Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, but anti-social thugs are left to riot without facing consequences.’

It has been a year since Covid restrictions ended, but Ministry of Justice data shows the number of hours of at-home community service has been higher in the past year than during the 2020 lockdown.

Community service was paused during Covid lockdowns, which led to the development of a work-from-home scheme. Offenders would be sent a box of materials for a task, such as sticking sequins on charity greetings cards. 

Tasks have included making greetings cards for charity and knitting hats and scarves for refugees (Stock Image) 

They would have to return the box with the completed products within a certain timeframe.

Probation officers could issue penalties if work was not completed to the required standard or in time.

The data shows 59,314 hours of unpaid home working were completed from April 2020 to April 2021, when restrictions were strictest. This jumped to 274,324 hours between April 2021 to April 2022. Since last April, while Britain has been clear of Covid rules, 136,356 hours have been done at home.

Justice Minister Damian Hinds said the home-working scheme was introduced as a ‘temporary delivery method’. He added: ‘Probation regions have been required to phase out their use from September 2022.’

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