Community work numbers fall cheers

18:23, Feb 09 2014

The number of offenders undertaking community work in the south has dropped by more than 500 in the past five years.

It is a figure Community Probation Southland and Central Otago district manager Glenn Morrison is pleased with.

The drop in numbers showed the district was working hard to achieve Corrections' goal of reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017, he said.

Some of that work included probation officers working closely with offenders to engage and motivate them to address their offending, and also by referring them to the appropriate internal and external intervention programmes, he said.

There were 1761 offenders in Southland and Central Otago undertaking community work in 2009, but only 1204 last year. Offenders have clocked up 542,184 hours of community work in the past five years in Southland and Central Otago.

Community work requires offenders to do unpaid work in the community for non-profit organisations, as a way of making up for their offending. They can be required to do between 40 and 400 hours.

It was one of several community-based sentences imposed through the courts, Mr Morrison said.

Community work also offered the opportunity for offenders to learn new skills and work habits. "It makes offenders take responsibility for their crime and, we hope, make changes in their lives which mean we will never see them again."

Some of the projects community work offenders have been involved in throughout the south include maintenance on the Bluff Hill walking tracks, setting up and dismantling the A&P show and Dolamore Park restoration.

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