Clause 130 - Duty to consult on unpaid work requirements

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:00 pm, 15th June 2021

I will follow your direction, Sir Charles, by saying just a few words on this clause, which is relatively straightforward and, I think, pretty inoffensive.

Clause 130 simply creates a requirement for probation officials to consult key local and regional stakeholders on the delivery of unpaid work. Unpaid work—or community payback, as it is sometimes known—combines the sentencing purposes of punishment with reparation to communities. We believe that, where possible, unpaid work requirements should benefit the local communities in which they are carried out. Nominated local projects are already popular with sentencers and the public, but there is currently no requirement for probation officials to consult stakeholders on the design or delivery of unpaid work, so members of communities and organisations within particular local areas that are best placed to understand the impact of crime and what might be useful in the local area do not necessarily have their say.

Clause 130 simply seeks to address the gap by ensuring that key local stakeholders are consulted, so that they can suggest to the probation service what kind of unpaid work might be useful in their local area. We hope that local community groups and stakeholders come up with some good ideas that the probation service can then respond to. That seems to be a pretty sensible idea. The probation service in some areas may do it already. This clause simply creates a proper duty, or a requirement, for the probation service to do it. Of course, if we understand the needs of local communities and their thoughts, we can improve the way unpaid work placements operate to support rehabilitation and also help the local community. If the local community can visibly see offenders doing unpaid work in their local area, whether it is cleaning off graffiti, cleaning the place up or whatever else it may be, that will, we hope, demonstrate that the programme is giving back to and improving the local community, but delivering a punitive element as well.