Community Orders: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 14th July 2021.

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Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many hours of unpaid work due to be undertaken as part of Community Sentences given (1) before 23 March 2020, and (2) since that date, have been (a) completed, and (b) deferred as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Photo of Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Lord Wolfson of Tredegar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As unpaid work is necessarily often delivered in groups, such work was unavoidably adversely affected by Covid-19. However, unpaid work has not been deferred. Probation worked hard to innovate unpaid work delivery so that some placements could continue to be delivered safely, including home based projects for local charities and offenders supporting vaccination centres. Nevertheless, due to the adverse effect on delivery rates, probation have been managing a backlog of requirements. We are working closely with our CJS partners to accelerate the delivery of unpaid work and, where appropriate, apply for unpaid work orders to be extended so that hours can be completed after the original 12-month period specified in the legislation. There are approximately 5m hours of unpaid work on the caseload currently, 4m (80%) are in relation to requirements that are still within their normal delivery window or agreed extension.

Of all UPW requirements on the probation case list as of 26th June 2021

  • For sentences prior to 23/3/2020, 539,236 hours were delivered.
  • For sentences after 23/03/2020, 749,311 hours were delivered.

However, this is a dynamic data set. Some of these requirements are still being worked (yet to reach 12 months from sentencing) and others on the backlog (i.e. post 12 months from sentencing) are being pursued for completion.

There is often a delay in recording completed UPW hours. UPW completed over the weekend of the 26th and 27th of June 2021 is unlikely to be fully represented in this data. While all reasonable efforts have been taken to ensure the accuracy of this data, the inaccuracy inherent in any large-scale administrative data means data should not be assumed to be fully accurate.

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