Criminals who have been issued with court orders to work in the community are completing craft packs at home as Covid-19 halts all face-to-face unpaid work.
The current restrictions has resulted in all unpaid work placements in the Renfrewshire community being cancelled for safety reasons, leaving the council’s social work department to come up with other methods for hours to be completed.
As of November last year, there were more than 30,000 hours outstanding.
In a bid to keep the orders moving, those given a Community Payback Order at Paisley Sheriff Court are being delivered craft and joinery packs to complete within their own homes.
These packs, which are understood to include tasks such as crafting storage boxes, are then sent out to local charities, care homes and community groups throughout Renfrewshire.
According to a report by the Scottish Government, the aim of unpaid work is to “provide a high quality community-based intervention which balances payback to the community with opportunities for individuals to address their offending behaviour whilst supporting them towards positive change.”
The number of outstanding hours stands at 30,812, with 295 people issued CPOs as of November 2020.
This figure lower than the 32,240 hours outstanding during the same period in 2019, with 358 people issued CPOs at the time.
Renfrewshire Council criminal justice department, which oversees the CPOs, stated the reason for the reduction in hours is due to all court business being suspended during lockdown, meaning no new orders were issued for a number of months.
Concerns have been voiced on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on court business, with the Express previously revealing the backlog of cases could take years to fix.
Lawyers working at Paisley’s court spoke of the “monumental” impact the delays of Covid-19 is going to have on the justice system.
The Scottish Court and Tribunal Service (SCTS) has said it is dedicated to finding “creative and innovative ways” to deal with the impact Covid-19.
Renfrewshire Council said that while traditional methods of unpaid work in the community are not being undertaken, it is “continually reviewing and adapting” its approach during the
A Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: “Unpaid work is one part of a Community Payback Order and our criminal justice service is continually reviewing and adapting our approach in line with the latest Scottish Government and public health advice.
“This includes enhancing our working from home projects, ensuring service users continue to give up their time and that there is a learning experience for the individual undertaking it and that the work benefits the community.
“Lockdown has seen a reduction in the numbers of new orders being imposed, while Covid-19 legislation has extended the time periods to allow this work to be completed for new and existing orders.
“We continue to work hard to reduce the number of outstanding hours within the current restrictions.
The spokesman added: “We continue to work closely with the court service to ensure Community Payback Orders are completed in line with Covid-19 restrictions and the number of hours outstanding includes all new orders imposed by
“Community Payback Orders in Renfrewshire continue to be undertaken in line with the latest public health and government guidance to ensure the safety of service users, council staff and the wider community.
“This includes unpaid work, where service users are issued with craft and joinery packs, with the completed products provided to local charities, care homes and community groups.”