New figures reveal the number of community service orders given out by courts in Edinburgh has doubled during the last two years…
Almost 84,000 hours of unpaid work was carried out in Edinburgh last year through community service orders. This was the equivalent of nine and a half years.
Community payback orders were introduced as an alternative to prison in 2011 and require offenders to undertake unpaid work. In Edinburgh this included restoring gravestones, as well as unwanted bicycles, and refurbishing the Museum of Edinburgh’s courtyard and gardens.
The figures, which were gained via a Freedom of Information request, also revealed a total of 839 unpaid work orders were given out during 2014 by city courts. Comparatively, only 420 orders were given out in 2012.
Data also showed that only 481 orders given last year were fulfilled, and 202 failed due to a direct breach of the order by the offender.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said those individuals who failed to fulfil the order would find themselves back in court if there was no adequate reason for it.
The unpaid work that was completed during the financial year 2013/14 amounted to 83,798 hours. It saved the city council a total of £544,687. This figure was reached based the cost of the work if the offenders had been paid the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour.
Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said: “I personally think that we should be using more of these orders.
“People need to pay back to communities when they have committed crimes, and I know communities think the same thing.
“People think that those who commit crimes in an area should be made to pay back to the community.
“My understanding is that those who do not fulfil their payback order need to provide an explanation. It’s not taken lightly, because the punishment is taken up by the court.”