Top Norwich judge’s praise for offenders’ help in Norfolk rail scheme

A senior Norwich judge has praised the contribution made by offenders towards a scheme to try and clear a derelict stretch of Norfolk railway line which is hoped might one day become operational again.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway comprises of an operational 11-mile section, between Dereham and Wymondham, although the long-term aim is for the line to reach as far as Fakenham.

The success of the project owes much to the contribution made by offenders ordered to do unpaid work as part of their punishment under the Community Payback initiative.

Yesterday about 10 offenders helped to clear a section of the track at North Elmham, near Dereham, where they were watched by Judge Peter Jacobs.

He said: 'I was very impressed with the attitude and contribution of people I saw and talked to. Some of them haven't been able to secure employment for many years and many I spoke to were proud and felt they were getting the chance to make a real contribution and hope they can demonstrate to people they're worthy of full-time employment.'

Judge Jacobs said the Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust 'deserve a lot of credit' for the scheme and would have no hesitation in sentencing more offenders to Community Payback.

He said: 'For people who have committed low level offences its far better to put them on these schemes than to put them in prison or make them pay fines which they can't pay.'

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