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280,000 hours of community service work left unfinished by convicts | UK News

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280,000 hours of community service work left unfinished by convicts | UK News

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New figures from the Ministry of Justice revealed the staggering numbers (Picture: Getty)

Nearly 280,000 hours of community service work were left incomplete in 2023 by criminals, it’s been revealed.

The quantity of incomplete unpaid work given to convicts reached a ten year high in 2023, according to new figures from the Ministry of Justice.

Since 2019, more than 1,300,000 hours of community work was not completed due to these expired sentences.

The Labour Party – who was behind the research- said these figures meant criminals were let off from the equivalent of more than 30 years of community service in 2023 alone.

Shabana Mahmood MP, the shadow justice secretary, claimed crime victims had been abandoned under the Conservatives’ watch in Government.

Ms Mahmood said: ‘A functioning justice system is the foundation of any democracy, but under the Conservatives the criminal justice system is in chaos.

Community service could include a plethora of activities (Picture: Shutterstock)
Labour has claimed the figures show a failure of Conservative government (Picture: Shutterstock)

‘Victims expect sentences to be completed and community payback work to be carried out, but Rishi Sunak’s government can’t even get the basics right.’

Suspended sentences are usually handed out to criminals when their offence warrants less than two years’ jail time.

Judges instead impose conditions such as community payback which, if broken, can result in imprisonment.

Community payback often includes work such as removing graffiti, clearing wasteland, painting railings or decorating public places – done so under supervision and while wearing orange vests.

According to the MoJ, suspended sentence orders cannot legally be extended beyond ‘the length of the operational period of the order’ which is set by the judge.

An order ends when this period ‘expires’, meaning that any unpaid work remaining no longer needs to be completed.

In 2023, 19,000 pieces of community work were avoided by those on suspended sentences (Picture: Rex)

Criminals on suspended sentence or community sentence orders avoided more than 19,000 pieces of community work, meaning more than third of all community work was avoided in 2023.

Ms Mahmood added: ‘Through rolling out community and victim payback boards to oversee community service in their local areas, Labour will make sure that criminals carry out their sentences, complete their payback, and are fully rehabilitated and reintegrated. A Labour Britain will be a safer Britain.’

Justice minister Edward Argar responded to Labour’s comments, saying: ‘The disruption caused by the pandemic added to a backlog of unpaid work hours.

‘The Government is investing an additional £93m in community payback over three years. This will allow us to increase delivery of community payback back to pre-Covid levels of delivery.’

Mr Argar said a national campaign to recruit community payback staff has been created, which will allow the MoJ to ‘boost delivery of community payback to pre-Covid levels.’

Mr Argar also said the number of incomplete hours should be viewed in the context of complete community payback work, which he said totalled ‘over 4.7 million hours’ between April 2022 and March 2023.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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