The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Unpaid What?

A few weeks ago I spent a few hours at the local offices of a well-known charity. During a break in the meeting I asked the manager if she had ever considered applying for people on Unpaid Work orders to come and do tasks around the place. She pulled a face, and said: "We tried it a couple of years ago, but after the second day we gave up. We won't have them back". "Why?" I enquired. "Well, they were all young lads, and they had a poor attitude. Some of them treated it as a bit of a laugh, and there were always a group of them hanging about in the kitchen or the toilets. I found them intimidating, and several female staff complained of harassing remarks. I felt uncomfortable myself. The supervisor seemed to have no real control over them, so they spent most of the day hanging around with their hands in their pockets". I have no reason to doubt the lady, and I find this worrying. It is a truism that sentencers will not use community sentences unless they can be confident that they are properly managed, which was not the case here.
Despite repeated requests I have not been able to visit a work project since the early Nineties, so if any friendly probation officer out there wants to ask me along one Saturday, I shall be delighted to come.

Later: The issue is, by coincidence, in today's news.