Courts in England and Wales sentence offenders to more than 8 million hours of community service, or unpaid work, every year.
Yet the public still sees this alternative to prison as a soft option and no deterrent to crime.
Nick Baker finds out who gets selected for this kind of punishment and joins them as they serve their sentences, clearing overgrown parks, and finds out how their lives have been changed.
Nick Baker investigates whether the Government's faith in this alternative to prison is justified.
He joins a magistrate visiting an unpaid work project and talks to offenders, probation officers, judges and politicians to find out if a bit of painting and decorating can be really considered a punishment or can result in rehabilitation.