CHURCH members in Powys have applauded offenders who repaired an important part of their grounds.

The unpaid handymen rebuilt 10 meter of collapsed stone wall at St Edward's Church, Knighton, as part of an initiative to help make amends for their crimes.

St Edward's treasurer John Watson said "We're delighted by this work under the Community Payback scheme. The offenders were motivated and inspired by their supervisor and they gained personal esteem and a sense of achievement.

"As a church council we'd spent a long time trying to work out how we could pay for these repairs so this project was very welcome."

Before starting the work Community Payback supervisor Rod Evans, of the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), took advice from local stonemason Keith Jones. He took a course to learn the skills needed to rebuild the wall then trained a team of offenders to work on the project.

Rod Evans said "This was a substantial project and my team found it really rewarding; they have contributed positively to the Knighton community and the experience will stand them and the church in good stead for the future."

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said "This shows how justice can be delivered locally and effectively. Offenders can put right their wrong, gain skills and improve life for communities too."

Community Payback is a sentence available to the courts and is used as a punishment in community or suspended sentence orders. It requires an offender to work for nothing for 40-300 hours depending on the gravity of their offences.

Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Rev John Davies, congratulated all concerned on the work done at St Edward's.

He said "I was present at a service in Knighton in early October and was able to see the work in progress and to congratulate those responsible for it.

"The Community Payback scheme gives to those who work within it opportunity to contribute something really worthwhile. I hope very much that it helps them develop for themselves a greater sense of self worth and self esteem."