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About 80% ‘just do’ community service, but Probation Service has to support rest

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ONE in five community service orders were breached in 2019, the Probation Service annual report has revealed.

Chief probation officer Anna Guilbert. (Picture by Juliet Pouteaux, 28471089)

But on the other side of the coin, 90% of orders were completed eventually.

More than 7,000 hours of community service work was undertaken last year, and more than 9,400 hours were ordered by the courts, as a direct alternative to 275 months in custody.

Nearly 20% of orders were breached at some stage.

The service provides risk assessments for the court and also enforces court sentences that cover deterrence, reparation and rehabilitation.

Chief probation officer Anna Guilbert said while there were breaches, they were pleased to get so many offenders to the end of their order.

‘We do a lot of encouragement and management for difficult individuals,’ she said.

‘About 80% just do it. The other 10% to 20% need extra support.’

Community service orders are issued as a punishment for offenders and to make reparations to the community.

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They have been issued in the island for more than 10 years, helping a range of projects.

Offenders mostly take part in working parties on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

If offenders have a trade, such as carpentry or painting, that can be put to use.

The biggest beneficiaries last year were Edible Guernsey, with 1,531 hours, St Peter Port Floral Guernsey, with 771 hours, and Les Cotils, with 565 hours.

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Last year, 83 new community service orders were issued, which was a 9% increase on 2018. The offenders ranged in age from 14 to 69. The average number of active orders was 43, a 22% decline from 2018.

There were between 40 and 50 people undertakings CSOs at any one time, with adults doing at least five hours work a week.

There were 17 orders breached, although some of these will have been from orders made in 2018.

It resulted in five CSOs being revoked and five more having their order increased.

Three people absconded from the island. The rest were dealt with in different ways.

The service also prepared 238 full social inquiry reports prepared for the Magistrate’s and Royal Court, as well as 41 parole assessment reports.

Priorities for the year included taking part in the justice review, scoping of alternative sentencing, including electronic tagging, and the ongoing development of the domestic abuse perpetrator programme, were among areas which formed priority work streams for the service.

With tagging, Probation has been working with the prison to help assess when it would be suitable. Mrs Guilbert said this had been going well and it was hoped it could be extended to areas such as curfews in community sentencing.

The start of 2020 has been a difficult time for the Probation Service, with the limitations of lockdown.

While staff were classed as essential workers, they still tried to limit contact with people.

They stayed in contact with high-risk offenders and where possible this was done on the phone.

Community service order work was also suspended, but Mrs Guilbert said they were now catching up.

If Guernsey goes back into lockdown, she said, they were now better prepared.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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