DORSET’S High Sheriff got an insight into the other side of the law at an event marking 40 years of the community service punishment scheme.

Jeremy Pope visited the Dorset Community Payback Unit at Holton Heath, near Poole, after agreeing to be ‘an offender for the day’.

He witnessed the induction process all new workers go through, then met offenders as they served their unpaid hours.

Last year offenders carried out 76,244 hours of labour in Dorset, equating to £452, 131 of paid work based on the minimum wage.

One community sentence offender told the High Sheriff: “The first day can be quite intimidating, rather like the first day at school. But once things are explained we are soon put at ease and everyone is very helpful.”

Once someone has been sentenced they have to attend within ten working days for their induction.

Dorset Probation Trust actively seeks projects in and around the county with the aim of making it a safer, cleaner place to live, said operations coordinator Julie Anne Jones.

She added: “Community Payback, part of Dorset Probation Trust, has been working on various projects in Dorset. The work has been carried out by groups of workers sentenced to unpaid work hours.

“The workers from probation are all on community orders, sentenced through the courts with an unpaid work requirement.

“Hours vary from 40 to 300 for each worker and they generally carry out the unpaid work close to their own community.”