GROUPS of offenders working in their communities after being sentenced for criminal offences have contributed tens of thousands of hours in Dorset.

Last year, people completing 'community payback' activities in Dorset have undertaken 38,097 hours of work with the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company (DDC CRC).

Those ordered to take on work as part of a court order often participate in a range of manual tasks, including cleaning graffiti from walls and picking up litter.

Offenders may also create new garden spaces, renovate buildings and work in charity shops.

In December, a number of community orders have been handed out. A 31-year-old Blandford woman who admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and suffers with mental health problems, a 26-year-old Northbourne man who admitted failing to provide a specimen of breath to police when suspected of a driving offence and a 38-year-old Bournemouth man who admitted driving while three times the drink-drive limit, as well as driving without insurance, were among those sentenced to an order.

Community sentences can be given for crimes including damaging property, benefit fraud and assault. They are often handed out by judges and magistrates when the offender is appearing at court for the first time or when it is thought such a sentence may be more likely to stop an offender committing crimes than a prison sentence.

People who have mental health problems which affect their behaviour may also be handed a community order.

John Wiseman, DDC CRC probation director, said: “Community payback provides a tough, effective and visible punishment and deterrent, requiring people to undertake challenging work while giving some tangible value back to communities that suffer as a result of crime.

“It also provides an opportunity for people to turn their experience into a positive one by picking up new skills that can help them towards paid employment and leading more stable, positive and crime-free lives.”

To nominate a project in Dorset, visit