SHOULD a drug addict who mugged a pensioner as she was being treated in an ambulance be sent to jail?
That is one of the scenarios being put to members of the public in a series of workshops aimed at giving people a better insight into how community-based, non-custodial sentences work.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, is determined to increase public confidence in such sentences.
To help spread that message the North Wales Probation Area, in conjunction with local magistrates, is holding a programme of open sessions.
Representatives of the service, along with JPs, have addressed numerous bodies and in Wrexham they held an open forum in the town’s magistrates’ court.
At the meeting in Wrexham, experienced magistrate Pat Thomas outlined the varied community orders open to JPs.
She said it was important for people to feel that they were receiving protection from the courts whilst wrong-doers were being published.
“But many people are very surprised to learn that community-based penalties are not a soft option,” she said.
The 12 community order options open to JPs to impose include curfews, unpaid work, prohibited activities, supervision, and treatment for alcohol or drug dependency. The aim is not only to punish the offenders but to help rehabilitate them.
Senior probation officer Lis Oats told the meeting: “Some of the orders are more punitive than custodial sentences.”
More than 2,000 people are currently being supervised by the probation service in North Wales.
For details about the workshops call Carl Owen on 01745 588508.