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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

January 1, 2009: Orange Jackets – More Problems

Probation union Napo has warned that the orange jackets, also known as high visibility vests, introduced by the government as a condition of Community Payback (formerly Unpaid Work, formerly Enhanced Community Punishment, formerly Community Punishment and formerly Community Service) have already resulted in incidents of abuse, threats and taunting from members of the public. The controversial vests were introduced as a condition of Community Payback on 1st December 2008.

Napo notes that in one area, a group of youths chanted “nonces, smackheads, low lifes” at a work group, in another they were called “f***ing criminals” and in another, cans were thrown at individuals on placements. Some offenders have refused to wear the vests and have reacted aggressively and abused supervisors. 

In addition, Napo has catalogued a series of incidents which occurred during 2008, including two cases of firearms being discharged. In the London Borough of Newham an individual was hit in the shoulder. In other areas there have been fights involving members of the public; Unpaid Work vans have been followed; and there have been numerous incidents of abuse from the public. High visibility is likely to increase the chances of these events reoccurring. 

Organisations which offer placements for offenders have become very wary of promoting and using the Community Payback vests. In an area in the Midlands 28 out of 32 placements have said no to the vests and in another area in the North East 11 out of 20 have again turned them down. Most have said that the unpaid work was punishment in itself and that the addition of vests was humiliating and demeaning. About a third of placements involve working in charity shops and organisers there have said the wearing of vests would deter members of the public and affect their takings.

Napo argues that the vests may contravene the Council of Europe Rules on Community Sanctions, which states that they should not jeopardise the privacy or dignity of offenders. Furthermore, as a court did not order the wearing of the vest, refusal to wear them arguably does not constitute a breach and is therefore not enforceable. 

Harry Fletcher, Napo Assistant General Secretary, commented:

“High visibility vests have not been thought through. There have already been numerous incidents of offenders being abused by members of the public and missiles have been thrown at participants”.

“During the last year or so Napo is aware of two incidents in London and one in Liverpool of firearms being discharged on site. In two of those incidents individuals were hurt. It is not surprising that the organisers of placements are saying no to the vests. So far 39 out of 52 placements notified to Napo have said no. Refusal has normally been on the grounds that it demeans the individual, introduces unnecessary risk or deters customers from charity shops."

"There is absolutely no evidence that the wearing of vests has any impact whatsoever on crime. Indeed the early trends suggest that more offences will be committed as a consequence of the jackets being worn. It is already time for the government to review this unnecessary policy.”