‘Make offender orders longer’ says Fife councillor

Offenders at work in the community
Offenders at work in the community

Offenders should get longer ‘community’ sentences, a Glenrothes councillor has claimed, reports MIKE DELANEY.

Ross Vettraino said that while he supported the idea of some people having to pay back their debt to society by working on worthy projects, rather than going to jail, the time involved was not enough to make a significant difference to their lives.

He was commenting as Glenrothes Area Committee heard a report on the work of the community service by offenders team.

The meeting heard about the large number of projects those convicted of minor crimes had carried out in the Glenrothes area.

Cllr Bill Kay said it was a “good scheme”, and the results of one project he had visited in Leslie were akin to a ”professional painting job.”

“So there’s no question about it and there’s maybe a case for it applying to more habitually unemployed groups, but that’s a controversial view,“ he added.

Council leader and town councillor, Peter Grant, was equally enthusiastic, pointing out that one participant had had the courage to appear in a DVD about the scheme which councillors had been shown.

“That person has accepted ‘I have done something I shouldn’t have done and because of that I am now putting something back into the community.

“It is important people understand how many fairly small ,but highly valued projects have been done which would never have got done otherwise.”

Cllr Vettraino emphasised that he also supported the scheme, but he added: “It’s my understanding that an order can be of the order of 100 hours, 120 hours, 200 hours.

“People are the way that they are (he told chairwoman Fiona Grant) because of our attitude and you and I have the attitude we have because of all the experiences we have ever had, up to and including this very moment.

“You don’t change that in 100 hours, or 200 hours, so whereas the principle of the scheme is sound, the way we are going about it isn’t, because 100 hours, 200 hours is not enough.”

Social work team manager, Stuart MacArthur, who presented the report to the committee said: “Community payback/community service has assisted a large variety of projects over the last year, from individual households to schools and nurseries.

“It plays a significant and positive role in local communities and repairs some of the harms caused by those who are placed on the order.”