Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Offenders pay tribute to war heroes through Community Payback

As part of their sentences to pay back to the community for the crimes they committed, offenders have been working alongside the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to help tidy, maintain and cut the grass in cemeteries surrounding the war graves.

To date, offenders have spent more than 800 hours carrying out Community Payback in cemeteries throughout the Rhymney, Gelligaer, Hengoed and Ystrad Mynach areas of Caerphilly county borough, and have been supported throughout by Gwent Probation Service.

"I am pleased that offenders who are sentenced to Community Payback orders are able to make such a valuable contribution to various communities throughout the borough, by carrying out really meaningful tasks such as this", said Cllr Lyn Ackerman, cabinet member for the environment.

She continued, "I hope that the offenders have also had a chance to consider the sacrifices that men and women of a similar age to many of them made for their country, and I also hope that this thought provoking work will encourage them to see the error of their ways and help change their lives for the better."

Mike Mogford, Project Officer for Gwent Probation Service said, "We are honoured to be working alongside the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and I hope that through making these improvements to the war graves, offenders are able to pay back to the community for the crimes they committed while at the same time paying tribute to the many men and women that lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars."

Community Payback is a vital part of the Home Office's national Justice Seen, Justice Done initiative, of which Caerphilly county borough is a pioneer area. Offenders wear highly visible fluorescent orange jackets with 'Community Payback' emblazoned across the back while carrying out their tasks to help demonstrate to members of the public that community sentencing is not a 'soft' option.

One offender who has been working to maintain the war graves as part of their Community Payback said, "It has been a really positive experience and really makes you think of the people that gave up their lives for their country. It has definitely encouraged me to think twice about my behaviour in future."

Since it was established in 1917, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has constructed over 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erected headstones over graves, and in instances where the remains are missing, inscribed the names of the dead on permanent memorials.

To put forward a community project that you think could benefit from Community Payback, please either contact the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership on 01443 864374 or Gwent Probation Service on 01633 822 007.

Alternatively, you can register your suggestion online at www.caerphilly.gov.uk/saferccb


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