Thousands of criminals let off unpaid work sentences due to Covid

THOUSANDS of criminals have been let off unpaid work sentences due to Covid.

And other crooks are being allowed to make greetings cards from home instead.

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Burglars, thieves and other offenders have had their sentences effectively “wiped” after the March lockdown left them unable to complete placements already started in the community.

Hundreds more have made cards for prisoners and face masks for care home use at their own places of residence.

The Probation Service, which monitors criminals doing unpaid work, brought in the measures to cope with a huge backlog, The Times reported.

But criminals slapped with unpaid work orders after March must still complete their hours in full.

Government officials claim the write-off is the “unpaid work equivalent of furlough” and takes pressure off the court system.

The Ministry of Justice said it is “working hard to return to normal”.

But Diana Fawcett, of Victim Support, said: “Offenders ­having their community sentence hours wiped off only serves to undermine victims’ confidence in the ability of the justice system to handle cases effectively and feel that justice is done.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told: “Unpaid work is exempt from coronavirus restrictions and we have been working hard to return to normal in line with the latest public health advice and social distancing measures.”

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