A high-visibility programme aimed at shaming young offenders carrying out community service punishments has been rolled out in Bradford.

The scheme requires offenders to wear high-visibility vests bearing the words ‘Community Payback’ as they work in the community.

The scheme was started in 2006 in Kensington, London, and has since been introduced in select areas across the country.

It was introduced by the Government to restore public confidence that community punishments worked – though some have criticised it is unnecessary humiliation for those forced to wear the vests.

Announcing the national roll out of the Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: “Community punishments like unpaid work can be more productive than prison in getting offenders to stop their criminality.

“But public confidence in these punishments is lower than it should be, not least because they are less visible than they should be.

“The public, the taxpayer, has an absolute right to know what unpaid work is being done to pay back to them for the wrongs the offender has committed.”

One of the Bradford community payback schemes involves offenders working at an allotment off Cecil Avenue, Great Horton.

Vic Ozupak, project manager, said: “In terms of the vests themselves the offenders seem to have really taken to them.

“As long as they’re used on every site and by everyone there isn’t a problem. We have had very few objections.

“Once they understand it’s obligatory and they would be breaching their community service order, they accept it.

“We were slightly concerned to begin with that the vests would single them out for attacks or abuse but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

“I fully endorse and support the scheme. It’s a great idea and the community is completely behind us. They are very pleased at what we are doing to tidy up the area.

“The guys here on this site have done an excellent job. When they started it was all completely overgrown, but it has come on leaps and bounds.

“This is one of several projects we are operating and is run in conjunction with the YMCA. We also have another allotment site in West Bowling and offenders working with the YMCA on a lunch club and we have a group doing painting and decorating.

“We have some offenders working with Islamic Relief and a leaflet-distributing operation in various areas.”

Where possible, the offenders are made to work in the communities where they have committed offences, though this is not always practical.

More high-risk offenders, for example, with convictions for violence or burglary may not be suitable to work in certain areas.

About six offenders work on each project. Two of those working at the Cecil Avenue site agreed to talk to the Telegraph & Argus but asked not to be named.

One said: “Wearing the vests doesn’t really bother me although I would rather not wear it coming to work.

“At the end of the day, though, there’s nothing I can do. It’s all right working here, I also work at Islamic Relief sometimes.

“The vests mean people know we are offenders which I don’t really like but I haven’t had any hassle and at least we’re doing something useful.”

The other, a young man in his early 20s, said: “I’m not really bothered about having to wear the vest because everyone has to – it would be different if I was picked out to wear one.”