Offenders allowed to perform more than 300,000 hours of home community service in two years

Even felons do WFH: Offenders are allowed to perform over 300,000 hours of community service, including making face masks and greeting cards, from their homes

  • Offenders performed their unpaid work sentences remotely
  • More offenders performed community service from home in 2021 than in 2020
  • Unpaid work is often associated with community sentences for less serious crimes
  • Labor blasted the plan, arguing the Tories shouldn’t bring civil servants back to office while criminals continue to work from home

Criminals were allowed to “work from home” to complete more than 300,000 hours of community work over two years.

The offenders made face masks and greeting cards at home as part of the unpaid work.

Last night, critics questioned whether the government had forgotten its desire to limit public sector workers and civil servants working from home.

Officials say the program, introduced during the pandemic, allows criminals to complete a backlog of unfinished community work.

Other tasks include making hats and scarves for Ukrainian refugees as well as PPE for care homes and charities.

The findings, revealed in a parliamentary question by Police Minister Kit Malthouse, show that prison authorities are increasingly using the ‘self-employment’ scheme.

In 2020-21, at the height of the pandemic, there were 59,314 hours of work from home, or 4.4% of the total.

But that figure rose to 274,324 hours in 2021-22, or 7.7% of all community work, when the nation was largely unstuck.

It comes despite Mr Malthouse telling the Commons that ‘the intention of the government was to reduce the proportion of penalties that can be imposed in the context of working from home’.

Criminals were allowed to ‘work from home’ to complete more than 300,000 hours of community work over two years

Steve Reed, Labour‘s shadow justice secretary, said: ‘This is further proof that the Tories are soft on crime.

“It is absurd that ministers are still allowing criminals to do unpaid work from home as part of their sentence while harassing officials to return to office. Once again, the Conservatives are failing the criminals and failing the victims.

Unpaid work often comes with community penalties for less serious offenses such as theft, shoplifting, certain assaults and burglaries. Offenders must do between 40 and 300 hours depending on the seriousness of the crime.

To ensure justice is served, Boris Johnson demanded that offenders guilty of anti-social behavior and given community sentences be part of ‘fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs’ publicly paying for their crimes.

They have been tasked with clearing open spaces of rubbish and removing graffiti from public buildings, bridges and walls as part of multimillion-pound cleanup schemes.

However, a backlog of hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid unpaid work has grown after community recovery projects were halted during shutdowns in 2020 and 2021.

By the end of November, more than 13,000 criminals had not completed their allotted hours of unpaid work within 12 months of their court conviction, amounting to tens of thousands of hours.

To avoid having their sentences overturned, the probation service had to go back to judges or magistrates to get an extension, adding to the pressure on the courts already dealing with their own backlog of cases.

A backlog of hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid unpaid work has grown after community recovery projects were halted during shutdowns in 2020 and 2021

A backlog of hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid unpaid work has grown after community recovery projects were halted during shutdowns in 2020 and 2021

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectors of Justice, who oversee the prosecution, police, prison and probation, said this has led to ‘innovative’ approaches to ensuring that offenders with ‘specific needs’ can still doing their unpaid work.

They cited the example of a southern group of community reintegration companies – private companies that provide probation and reintegration services in prison – who “developed a ‘project in a box’ of unpaid work that could be sent to people who were shielding at home or otherwise unable to attend external sites,” adding, “Projects included making face coverings and greeting cards to strict industry standards, profits being donated to charity.

The Department of Justice said: “Offenders cannot complete more than ten percent of their unpaid work hours through these programs. They have ensured that offenders are still serving their sentences during the pandemic and have eased the burden on the courts.

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