AN award-winning new service working with offenders within the community was officially launched yesterday.

The One Swindon: 5 Wards project, which operates out of Broadgreen Community Centre, has been running for six weeks and was nationally recognised as Team Of The Year by all probation trusts.

The scheme, a collaboration between Wiltshire Probation Trust, Swindon Council and Wiltshire Police, looks to bring probation into the community.

Paul Aviss, the chairman of Wiltshire Probation Trust, said: “In preparing for this we did a study with our offenders around how they would feel about partners working closely with them in their communities. “More than 80 per cent said it was a good idea.

“It also benefits the community because they are seeing the impact of agencies working with offenders.

“Instead of seeing them in magistrates court, it is about getting justice delivered locally. “The community can then see the results.”

Angie Kennedy, the manager of the new service, said: “Traditionally we have taken offenders to our offices, but working alongside them we have a better chance. “In the longer term we are wanting to teach life skills.

“We have got about 116 service users across the five wards, and one third of those are on voluntary programmes.

“We take a carrot approach. Work with us and we will help them; work against us and they will feel the stick.” Andy Tatam, the assistant chief constable for Wiltshire Police, said: “The fact this is based in a community centre rather than a probation office changes the relationship and makes it more supportive. “If you go to a police station then that is already setting the tone for that relationship.

“If this provides an answer for people to move on then it can only be positive.”