06 January 2010

Young offenders are putting something back into the community by carrying out projects at Fermyn Woods Country Park.

Northamptonshire County Council’s youth offending service has teamed up with rangers at the park to allow young people on Community Payback schemes to carry out ongoing work clearing back paths and opening up views to improve the enjoyment of the public who use the park.

An important project undertaken during the last few months has been conservation work around the long pond area. This has created space for under water plants to grow, the creation of glades for different species- such as Dragonfly and Great Crested Newts - and habitat piles to provide areas for hibernation.

The Community Payback is a punishment handed out by the courts where offenders carry out unpaid work and put something back into the community.

Cabinet member for children and young people Cllr Andrew Grant said: “It is important that young people who offend put something positive back into the community, helping out at somewhere like a country park which provides constructive leisure activities for residents is one of the ways we do this.”

The tasks given to the young offenders are set by the youth offending service volunteer community panel.

Dee Sellars, a volunteer panel member, said: “As a volunteer, I am a representative of the community and I am responsible for setting Community Payback tasks. We aim to teach the young person far more positive ways to live and to respect themselves and others.”

The youth offending service is looking for members of the community who are interested in sitting on community youth offender panels. The panels work with young people putting together a contract that addresses their offending behaviour and looks at what they can do to make amends for their crime.

Volunteer panel members, such as Dee, are key to giving the community a voice and working alongside members of the service in reducing offending amongst young people.

To find out more call Sarah Malivoire or Liz Fowler at the youth offending service on 01536 533800.