‘Bonkers’ probation health and safety rules slammed by volunteer leader

PUBLISHED: 12:52 05 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:52 05 May 2013

Martin Waldock

Martin Waldock

Casey Gutteridge 07525246273

CONVICTED criminals may not take part in monthly litter picks due to “health and safety gone bonkers”.

The Hertfordshire Probation Trust was supplying volunteer Martin Waldock with offenders to help on his rubbish sweeps.

But it looks like they will now stop after concerns were raised over his public liability insurance and risk assessments.

An email from a member of the Community Payback project staff, seen by the WHT states: “Should you wish to continue using the services of Community Payback, I have new agreement forms which require signing by yourself, in addition to risk assessments to complete on any new proposed work sites prior to any commencement sessions of work being undertaken.

“As a voluntary community group set up i [sic] will also require a copy of your public liability insurance certificate to comply with our health and safety requirements.”

The message has left Mr Waldock furious. He says he has never had any cover for the offenders nor volunteers who take part in the picks.

He told the WHT: “I don’t know what has put this in her head but she says I need to provide risk assessments and public liability insurance.

“The thing with the insurance is all new to me and the risk assessments... every so often this nonsense comes up and they backtrack and look silly.

“I think it is ridiculous. It is as bad as some of the things you hear about on the news, it is health and safety gone bonkers.”

Away from Mr Waldock’s scheme Welwyn Hatfield Council does arrange litter picks with Community Payback, with one taking place in Salisbury Village every quarter.

The probation trust has been involved in the sweeps for the past three or four years, and MP Grant Shapps wants to see them continue.

He said: “If people are given probation I think the public want to see them putting something back into society and it is a good idea for them to pick up litter.

“If it is good enough for community volunteers like Martin Waldock I can’t see why it is beneath those on probation to join in.”

When the WHT spoke to the trust about the situation it laid the blame at recent changes to the Community Payback scheme and claimed it was trying to involve Mr Waldock in other larger projects.

A spokesman said it was trying to reduce costs with larger projects and the trust hopes to work in King George V in WGC.

John Hughes, director at Hertfordshire Probation Trust with responsibility for Community Payback, said: “These larger projects are also better placed to organise public liability insurance and make risk assessments possible, again reducing costs as well as ensuring the safety of our offenders and supervisors.

“That said, we recognise the valuable contribution that Mr Waldock and his volunteers make to keeping the local environment clean and tidy and are therefore looking for ways to support them in their work, for example by incorporating Mr Waldock’s litterpicks within larger projects.

“I have written to Mr Waldock explaining this and promising to be in touch as soon as I have more information.”

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