JUSTICE minister David Hanson MP visited Cheshire Probation HQ to congratulate staff on achieving a record 100,000 hours of free labour benefiting communities across the county.
After being taken on a tour of the Offender Management Unit, Jupiter Road, Chester, where he spoke to staff, the Delyn MP also spoke with a 29-year-old reformed drug addict called Mark.
Mr Hanson said: “Cheshire is one of the highest performing probation areas and it works in a very positive way to reduce crime and reduce re-offending.
“What we’re seeing in Cheshire today is how positive community based sentences can be in helping to prevent crime and re-offending.
“What we need to do is show the public that the probation service and the rest of the justice system are on their side.
“We are trying to turn people’s lives around and ultimately to try to give them confidence that we’re doing a job which will reduce crime and give people like Mark a better chance to make a go of their lives.
“Mark has had some difficult challenges in his life and the key thing I have learned today is how effective Mark has found the support of the probation service.”
The unpaid work scheme has provided the equivalent of more than £500,000 of work in Cheshire thanks to the Probation Service.
Mark, a former drug addict from Chester, told David Hanson that he had been hooked on heroin and crack cocaine but is getting his life back on track with a drug rehabilitation requirement.
“I got in with the wrong crowd and I ended up in social services care,” said Mark.
“I experimented with cannabis and solvents and it escalated from there to heroin and crack cocaine eventually.
“It got to the stage where I didn’t want to wake up the next morning because I knew what I was waking up to.
“In my case it reached the point where enough was enough. The right support was there at the right time.
“A drug rehabilitation requirement is a second chance rather than giving a custodial sentence.”