Davie leads the Community Payback Work team.

He coordinates unpaid work activities in communities across East Lothian for people who have been sentenced to a Community Payback Order with a requirement of Unpaid Work.

Davie’s been in post since September 2012 and his time is split between managing cases, assessing project referrals from community groups or third sector organisations, and managing three Community Payback Work Supervisors who deliver unpaid work projects. “While most days are broadly similar, the diversity comes from people, experiences and situations,” Davie said.

The team cover a wide range of unpaid work projects. “One of the underpinning concepts of unpaid work is that we should not be substituting our resources for paid work, so we shouldn’t be taking away opportunities for paid work,” Davie explains. “Our role is to support and enhance activities of existing organisations so we work with the third sector and community sector, where it’s not-for-profit.”

Larger projects currently on the go include painting at the charity Muirfield Riding Therapy, improving paths at Lochend Woods in Dunbar and looking after the grounds at Whatton Lodge - a miners convalescent home in Gullane - and Cockenzie House in Cockenzie. The team also has an allotment site and grows food to donate to care homes, food banks and community kitchens.

Davie is particularly keen on projects which see people on unpaid work orders working with others in the community, like beach cleans which are often organised by the community and help instil pride in the local area. “Just because you’ve committed an offence, doesn’t mean you’re no longer part of the community,” Davie said.

The team operates a seven day service, which allows those in work to complete their order. “In East Lothian a good significant percentage of our current client group are in some form of employment. We have roughly a 50/50 split in numbers just now and that’s quite significant,” Davie explains.   

Another part of Davie’s role is working with other agencies and stakeholders in the council, like adult wellbeing and health and social care. “We’re trying to work as holistically as possible with people, while recognising the requirements of the Court and Scottish Government CPO Guidance and National Standards,” he explains. A new initiative, the Justice Outcomes Star, is being adopted by the team to identify the things clients want to change in their lives, whether that’s accommodation, health, relationships or finances, and refer clients to receive support and advice to help them improve this aspect of their lives.

People can receive unpaid work orders as an alternative to custody, and Davie believes there is a real value in this. “We had a chap who just finished a large order and he finished by saying how glad he was that he ended up getting a community order rather than custody from a mental health perspective, and also because it’s taught him about how to establish and develop relationships with authority figures.”

Published: Wednesday, 11th March 2020