Offenders across New Zealand completed more than 1.8 million hours of community work last year, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

A community work sentence requires offenders to complete a set number of hours of unpaid work which benefits the community.

“I am delighted to see those on community work sentences engaging in constructive activities aimed at positive change in themselves and helping their communities,” says Ms Upston.

“People sentenced to community work can use the opportunity to take responsibility for their offending and learn new skills and work habits.”

Offenders can be required to do between 40 and 400 hours of community work and can work up to 10 hours a day, or up to 40 hours in any one week. Sentences can include activities such as painting, gardening, building, graffiti-cleaning, restoration and recycling and the maintenance of public land.

“Community work can give offenders valuable skills and knowledge which may help them to gain paid employment later. We know stable employment can be a key to offenders maintaining crime-free lives. Community work is positive for offenders and for the communities they live and work in,” Ms Upston says.

Community work projects in 2016 included:

  • Offenders from Ohakune, Raetihi and Taumarunui contributed around 720 hours to the development of the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park which opened last October.
  • Community work parties in Nelson helped with the Department of Conservation refurbishment project at Albion Square and supported the Sports Fishing for Youth Trust with maintenance of the fishing ponds and surrounding area.
  • Community-based offenders from west Auckland have been completing their community work sentences at the Green Bay New Zealand Bird Rescue Charitable Trust, helping injured birds receive a new lease on life.
  • 40 Te Awamutu community work offenders have begun a restoration project to plant more than 3500 native plants along the Puniu River as part of a key initiative of Waikato Regional Council and Sustainable Coastlines.   

Community work is one of nine community-based sentences and orders managed by the Department of Corrections. It is supervised and is done in groups or individually.

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