Criminals are allowed to “work from home” to perform community service

community service from home

They have been tasked with making face masks and greeting cards (Image: Getty Images)

Since the pandemic began, criminals have done more than 300,000 hours of community service at home.

Throughout the various Covid lockdowns, offenders have been busy making things like face masks and greeting cards.

The unpaid work-from-home program was introduced to help clear a backlog of community hours – despite Boris Johnson’s calls for “chain gangs with fluorescent jackets” to publicly pay for their anti-social crimes.

Other jobs on her list include making hats and scarves for Ukrainian refugees and PPE for nursing homes and charities.

All of this came out in a parliamentary question from Police Secretary Kit Malthouse, who revealed prison authorities are using the independent working initiative.

Between 2020 and 2021 – at the peak of the pandemic – 59,314 hours of collaborative homework were done. This corresponds to 4.4% of all unpaid work.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 26: Young offenders perform manual labor putting up a flower display box as part of a Community Payback scheme on February 26, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom. As the UK prepares to vote in the May 7th general election, many people are debating some of the many key issues they face in their lives, employment, NHS, housing, welfare, education, immigration,'the North -South gradient

The number of WFH community service hours is increasing (Image: Getty)

This jumped to 274,324 hours for 2021/22, when the UK was largely out of lockdown. That was 7.7% of the total.

This despite Mr Malthouse’s claim that it was “the government’s intention to reduce the proportion of prison sentences handed out for homework”.

Steve Reed, Labor shadow justice secretary, said: “This is further evidence that the Conservatives are criminals.

“It is absurd that ministers are still allowing criminals to do unpaid work from home as part of their sentence while rushing officers to get them back into the office. Once again Conservatives are letting criminals go and letting victims down.’

Criminals found guilty of crimes such as theft, shoplifting, burglary, and some assaults are often sentenced to community punishment.

Her Majesty’s chief justice inspectors, who oversee prosecutors, police, prison and parole, said a backlog of hundreds of thousands of hours had grown because of the pandemic.

This has led to “innovative” approaches to ensure that offenders with “special needs” can pursue their unpaid work.

The Justice Department said: “Offenders cannot perform more than 10% of their unpaid work time through these systems. They ensured offenders served their sentences during the pandemic and relieved the courts.”

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Justin Scacco

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