AFTER thousands of hours' labour probation workers won Harrow an award from the minister of justice yesterday.

Dozens of people serving time in the community have spent 100 days clearing up a 19th Century disused railway line as well as painting over graffiti and tackling fly tipping.

David Hanson, minister of justice, said: "From Harrow's perspective the use of people on community service has been critical to the success of this project.

"It's important that people see that those who've committed crimes are putting something back into the community."

Ray Peverill, a placement manager for the probation service, said he came up with the project with Sergeant John Burnett, of Kenton West Safer Neighbourhood Team, while they were walking around the borough.

He said: "It's just highlighting what we do all the time really. It would have meant a lot more to me if the people who actually did the work were getting the award.

"They've responded very well, I was expecting a negative response but they've actually been quite positive."

Mr Peverill said he planned to keep the project going, despite the end of the 100-day campaign which it is part of.

A 23-year-old man working on the railway line, who did not want to be named, said: "We've been doing a variety of different projects, basically painting over graffiti and picking up rubbish.

"It's the first time I've done community service. With the graffiti project I don't really see the point because when we come back it's always just had graffiti put on it again, but the other stuff helps."

The man, an advanced chemical engineering student from the Finchley Road area, did not want to say why he was made to do community service.

The railway line runs from Wealdstone to Belmont and was part of a section of track built by a hotel owner at what became RAF Bentley Priory, to bring people from the town centre to Stanmore.

After the work put in by people on probation it is now considered safe for residents to walk down.

The project was part of the Capital Clean-up Campaign and was a partnership between Harrow Council, the police and the probation service.

Mr Hanson presented the Gold Award at Harrow Leisure Centre, in Christchurch Avenue, at around 3.30pm.