Cheryl Lamont

Jail workers and probation officers in Belfast, Ireland have come up with a creative way to keep convicted criminals in check and on the upswing while creating a teachable moment for members of the public. The Belfast Telegraph reports that young men with minor convictions have been washing cars for government officials as part of a new initiative by a probation board in Northern Ireland. Already the move is getting praise from people who say that it shows wary members of the community that they can and should trust former inmates who are looking to get their lives back on track.

“It is a visible and practical method of ensuring offenders pay something back to the community while at the same time helping them develop skills they can use in the future which will prevent them continuing in a cycle of crime,” said Cheryl Lamont, acting director of the probation board. “Community service is one of the most successful court sentences in terms of preventing re-offending.”
The car wash is a free service to boot. It’s open at the probation board office each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The wash helps probationers meet their community service hours. It’s being suggested as a program for similar types of community service situations. But as we said before, it’s also educational for the public.
“(The board) recognizes that the fear of crime, particularly amongst older people and vulnerable groups, is an issue and aims to make more tailored services like the car wash available to this group, in an effort to reduce fear and help communities feel safer,” Lamont said.