Future snowfalls will be cleared by the convicted

OFFENDERS could be used to help the Capital recover from severe weather conditions again after they spent more than 1400 hours clearing away snow this month.

• Offenders clear the snow in Cheyne Street

More than 100 offenders on community service programmes in Edinburgh were drafted in by city chiefs to help rid the streets of snow, put down grit and clear side streets and walkways of ice.

Those on community service orders focused on clearing snow from areas such as care homes, day centres, sheltered housing, medical centres and bus shelters across the city.

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They spent a total of 1454 hours clearing places such as bus shelters in Craigentinny, Wester Hailes Medical centre, St Columba's Hospice in Boswall and a soup kitchen in Lauriston Place.

The figures on the use of offenders to help the snow-clearing effort between December 2 and 22 came from the city council's criminal justice service, which runs the community service programme for offenders.

Councillor Paul Edie, health and social care leader for the city, praised their work and said the council "won't hesitate" to draft them in again to help with future weather-related emergencies.

He said: "The city has experienced its worst snowfall for over 40 years and the council had to use all the resources at its disposal to keep essential services open. The whole purpose of community service is that offenders repay the community for their crimes and that's exactly what they have been doing over the past three weeks.

"We took them off their routine duties and identified priority areas outside care homes, medical and social work centres and homes of our most vulnerable people.

"The work of these offenders has benefited the city enormously.

"They are a valuable resource which we won't hesitate to use again."

Craigentinny and Duddingston councillor Ewan Aitken welcomed the help of the offenders within his ward.

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He said: "I think it's a constructive use of these folks' time. Anything that pays back a bit for what they have done to harm the community is a good thing and it might be worth looking at other ways in which they can get involved in improving the community, particularly if they have damaged the community in the past.

"Anything that can be done appropriately that means that what they do has a direct benefit for the local community is positive and I think it will benefit them too."

Offenders on community service in Edinburgh also helped with a massive clean-up project in the city earlier this year.

The clean-up along the Water of Leith was one of many events co-ordinated across all Scotland's 32 local authorities to highlight the work carried out by offenders on community service schemes who give back something which directly benefits their neighbourhood.