UK

Offenders Fill Sandbags To Help Flooding Victims In The Somerset Levels

17/02/2014 17:14 GMT | Updated 17/02/2014 17:59 GMT

Groups of offenders have been drafted in to help residents on the flooded Somerset Levels by filling hundreds of sandbags.

The Probation Service is supervising the work, which is being carried out by offenders on Community Payback schemes.

Seven offenders shifted 14 tonnes of sand and filled 600 bags on Saturday, while a group of five filled 750 on Monday.

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The work was carried out over two seven-hour shifts at the Sedgemoor District Council depot in Bridgwater.

Denise Day, Community Payback team manager, said the offenders hoped to work on the Somerset Levels in person.

"It is very hard work and everyone's doing a fantastic job," she said.

"They can all identify with the plight of flood victims - most of them are local and are affected by the floods in some way.

"The sandbags they're filling are vital for homeowners, but the work they're doing also means that they're freeing the council workforce to carry out important tasks elsewhere.

"At the moment, they are working at Sedgemoor District Council but it is hoped they will go out onto the Levels.

"A couple of the group today have been directly affected by flooding themselves so they have been filling sandbags and also working there in their own time.

"We have also offered to help on the Levels when the clean-up operation begins."

The offenders have all been handed community service sentences of between 40 and 300 hours.