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Probation and Community Sentencing

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 25 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Probation Court Justice Judicial

Probation and community sentencing are closely linked to the offence that the defendant has committed. The courts will try and avoid a custodial sentence where possible as this could have a detrimental impact on the offender. The court will always seek to ensure that justice is upheld, but instead of a prison sentence, the court can hand down a community sentencing as an alternative option to prison. If you are an offender and have served a prison sentence of more than 12 months, you will automatically on your release be put under the supervision of the National Probation Service (NPS).

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 also bought into law two new offences: Community Order and Suspended Sentence Order. Both of these have an impact on probation and community sentencing. The court will usually order the offender to perform one or more ‘requirements’ as part of their sentence within the Suspended Sentence Order or the Community Order. These will usually be managed by the offender’s probation officer that have a range of leaflet giving details of each requirement.

What Does Probation Mean?

Anyone that has served a prison sentence of 12 months or more will automatically on their release be assigned a probation officer. The justice system seeks to rehabilitate all offenders - the probation services is a key component in that rehabilitation. The court and the wider judicial system does not want to simply release offenders back into the community without any help and support. You can read more about the NPS on their website. The remit of the NPS is to:

  • Prevent an offender from committing more crimes
  • Enforce the offender’s community sentence conditions
  • Resolve any issues that resulting in the offender committing their crime in the first place

If you are given probation it is important that you comply with all the rules that have been set out by the court. The judicial system insists that any conditions it places on your probation are followed to the letter. Remember you must never:

  • Attend a meeting with your probation officer drunk or under the influence of alcohol
  • Miss a meeting with your probation officer
  • Use threatening behaviour

If you break the conditions of your probation you will be sent back to court. The court will then make a decision whether you should be sent back to prison. It is your legal right to make a complaint about the probation service handling your case. All appeals should be made to the NPS office handling your case. If you are still not satisfied your complaint has been dealt with, you can contact the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman that will investigate your complaint as they have a legal responsibility to investigate all complaints and appeals about sentencing decisions.

What is Community Sentencing?

Community sentencing has proven to be effective as it can ensure that the offender makes some form of recompense to the community that was affected by their offence. Since April 2005 a new offence called a Community Order has been available to the courts. As with all sentences that a court can hand down, if you believe a mistake has been made, you can make a formal complaint via the court that heard your case.

Examples of community sentencing that you could be ordered to carry out by the court hearing your case includes:

  • Unpaid work to help your local community. This could include collecting litter, helping charities or assisting your local authority removing graffiti
  • Regularly visiting a probation officer to help you improve your behaviour
  • Curfews may be imposed by the court

If you are a young offender that is defined as anyone under the age of 17, the court dealing with your case could give you a number of different sentences based on the offence that you committed. The Youth Justice System handles these types of offences. You can see more details on their website. Sentences such as community rehabilitation orders will mean you will be supervised by a probation officer or by someone from your local Youth Offending Team.

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My partner was sentenced to 1 year probation, 3 months on tag and 14 month driving ban for driving with an illegal substance in his system. The 3 months have passed so tag is off but he desperately wants to go to rehab. We are looking at a few in the UK and one in Italy. Will he be allowed to go even though he still has over 6 months left of probation? His officer said it wouldn't be easy but perhaps if he showed commitment and attended every Lifeline appointment over the next few months then they might pay for a 10 day detox. Detox is not what he needs. He needs at least 3 months of rehab which includes detox, daily therapy sessions and the 12 step programme. What are his rights? Surely as the offence was drug related it would be in everyone's interest for him to go to rehab and do it properly (all 3 stages) this could mean being away for a year. We are not asking for the system to pay for it either.
jules - 25-Jun-17 @ 3:12 PM
My ex partner got community service for breaching his non molestation order 4 times last year.He got over 100hours all together. Hasn't done no more than 20 hours he got called back to court in March this year got more hours and more fines.To which he hasn't paid a penny of his fines nd still hasn't done his community service.Now his probation officer wants to take it back to court to get the community service dropped as he don't think it is doing him any good..and he is still coming and ringing me making threats.. could this all be real as many people I have spoke to have said how can he getaway with this .what other option can the judge give nd would the judge drop the community service order . I know this is true as I have been informed by the domestic violence team . Thanks
Mum - 22-Jun-17 @ 5:10 PM
My partner was convicted and got 250 hours community service, he only had 16 hours left to do but he was then sentenced to 2 years in prison.They were two separate charges and went to court at different times but both offences occurred at the same time.The judge put two weeks concurrent sentence on for the 2 days of community service that he didn't complete. Does this mean that he won't be eligible for HDC?
Cho77 - 16-Jun-17 @ 1:17 AM
I have been given 120 hours for common Assault, I am in the process of appealing the conviction and today had a case review hearing and was given a hearing date for the end of July, I have asked the judge to put the work order on hold pending the appeal as so far I have completed 40 hours and will have finished by the new hearing date, but the judge was unsure of his powers to suspend the order and I am still waiting for an answer
moatboys - 12-Jun-17 @ 8:33 PM
I was given 250 hours unpaid work still have 190 left has been really hard to get them done as i 3 diffrent shifts and when i am on nightshift my week starts on a sunday night i am also in alot of debt with the courts and other stuff so having been working all the overtime that i can on satuerday and sundays the courts take the money direct from my wages the more i work the more they take and they quicker they get it but the last time i was at unpaid work i had a scurffle with one of the suppvisor he hit me times all i did was take his glasses of coz he was in my face shouting so took them off throw them on grass and walked away thinking he would leave me alone but then he attacked me i am now been breached is likely will go jail
Fifa king - 3-Jun-17 @ 10:27 PM
People need to ear in mind that 'probation' has now been split into two types. The NPS only deal with MAPPA/high risk cases.Everyone else is managed by CRC private companies which are diffierent according to the area of the country.
JJ - 2-May-17 @ 10:21 AM
@Sandrah - if he's on the run and they catch up with him, then he'll probably end up serving the rest of his sentence.
Greg - 11-Apr-17 @ 2:00 PM
Right its been 3 months since my brothers recall to prison. Police have been twice saying it was a standard recal (28 days) that was 1 month ago. Hes basically on the run so to speak. Will he end up doing the rest of his sentence or is it stil going to be 28 days. Thanktou
Sandrah - 11-Apr-17 @ 1:11 AM
My son in law got 80 hrs community service but every weekend he shows up and no case workers do this has happened for the last 5 weeks can we take this back to court as he is having to turn down private work to attend the sessions.
Aline - 2-Apr-17 @ 11:34 AM
Sandrah serdi - Your Question:
My brother has missed probation and hasnt called them to let them know why. Its been 2 weeks he still hasnt called them. He hasnt been staying at hus lisence address allso. Will he be breached or can he call and tell them. Thankyou

Our Response:
You brother could be taken back to court if he breaks any rules of his probation. He can also be taken back to prison if he breaks the conditions of his licence or parole, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Mar-17 @ 12:27 PM
My brother has missed probation and hasnt called them to let them know why. Its been 2 weeks he still hasnt called them. He hasnt been staying at hus lisence address allso.Will he be breached or can he call and tell them . Thankyou
Sandrah serdi - 6-Mar-17 @ 11:44 PM
I have a 100hr community service order but work full time, have a young child and already do voluntary work with a charity, my daughters school and a local sports club. I'm really struggling to fit in full days community service - can my current volunteer work be taken into account. I made a huge mistake when struggling with mental health issues and I accept I need to recompense for that but it would take my time away from other good causes.
Naz - 25-Feb-17 @ 5:15 PM
My partner had a suspended sentence for 18 months. This took a whole year for them to start his community service because his probation workers kept changing. He was advised to attend a healtg and safety course which he told his probation worker at the time he couldnt attend at short notice due to work commitements. A letter was also written by his boss for proof. She said that was fine and he attended the following week. He has also done a block of 6 days straight to get most of it done. And now doing it every sunday since it was all made clear when he should be doing it. The probation worker said she wouldnt breech him but she has. He now has to go back to court. Due to mixed signals etc and him actually wanted to do it to get it done what do you think the outcome would be?
Lillou - 16-Feb-17 @ 9:19 PM
I was ordered to do 120 hours of community service on Jan 3rd. I have almost completed it after this weekend I will only have 40 hours left. Once this is compelted do I still need to attend these pointless probation meetings and don't even get me started on the officer ive been assigned who nearly gave me a wArnish for not attending but I made 3 days worth of attempts to get hold of him to get a confirmed date. So my question once I completed my C.S is it all over and can I get on with my life.
BooBoo - 25-Jan-17 @ 9:16 PM
I have 150 hour unpaid work But I can't do it almost I do 6 to 7 days work what shall I do who should I speak
Tabi - 22-Jan-17 @ 10:53 PM
My daughter s just completed a 28 curfew for a drink driving offence.She was surprised to get a summons to go to court for a breach of conditions without reasonable explanation.The time oh the incident seems to relate to when the tag fell off because it was either faulty or not fitted correctly (I was present when it was fitted and the officer almost went to get a different unit as she had trouble fitting it).She was contacted straight away by phone, she explained what had happened and another tag was fitted the same day.We assumed that was the end of the matter.At no time has she been asked for a formal explanation.She has asked for a copy of the report sent the enforcement officer but this has not materialised.What will happen at court?What can she do before the court date?She has tried ringing the phone no on the summons but just gets an automatic response.Has correct procedure been followed here?
Alien - 19-Jan-17 @ 1:35 PM
I was wrong fully convicted of a crime. I pleaded not guilty. I logged an appeal with the magistrates straight away even before sentencing.I was given a community order of 100 hours which I completed. I have now won my appeal at the crown court. So effectively the crime never took place.But the punishment did. Should I be entitled to compensation for the 100 hours community service I worked ? Also. The wrong conviction directly ended my job as a security guard. The SIA would not renew my badge so I could not continue the job I had been in for 6 years. So the wrong decision by Scarborough Magistrates directly stopped my career. I believe I should be entitled to compensation for that ? How do I go about that ? Thank you.
JustPaul - 16-Jan-17 @ 1:09 PM
Please explain what is the standard court procedure. He hasn't violated the probation. They were aware of all this. We feel it's really unfair.
Don - 13-Jan-17 @ 8:04 PM
I ve been sentenced to 80 hours community service and because I work away and at weekends the court has given me 12 months to complete it. I ve been in touch with the probation officer and she has informed me that I have to guarantee at least one day a week or it will be referred back to court and I will get a custodial sentence because I can't guarantee one day a week. After much haggling and pleading from myself she agreed to one day every fortnight but due to my work I can't guarantee that as some weekends I don't manage to get back home. If the court has given me 12 months to complete the order why is she telling me I ve got to complete it within a couple of months ? This is stressing me out quite a bit at the moment because if my boss hears about it I will get sacked. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Kev99 - 12-Jan-17 @ 8:08 PM
My husband has been sentenced to 2 years in prison followed by 1 year supervised release order, does this mean he'll serve the full 2 years??
kiki06 - 11-Jan-17 @ 6:51 PM
DON - Your Question:
Hi My son has problems with drugs. He was also attending the probation form 2015. His licenence was about to finish in November 2016. we as a family was very worried as he was on Methadone form 9 months but his mental and physical health wasnt improving. he was having suicidal thoughts. He was trying to get the job but struggling because of his records. He was trying to attend the local community recovery groups for support but nothing was working. We as a family decided to send him for rehab. Searched in the uk and visited some they were far more expensive than over pocket. We found one out side the country and send him for treatment in September. He is still going through the recovery. We gave all the details to probation after he was admitted. There was no correspondence received from the probation however today the police officer came on the door and told us that they have arrest warrant for my son for not attending court for not attending probation. We got very worried as we have told everything to the probation and nothing was hidden. We want to know how the arrest warrant can be removed as when he will come back to the country it will flag up. He is doing really well and we feel that it is going to create another barrier for him.Please advise.

Our Response:
If your son is considered to have violated the terms of his probation, (especially not attending court) then the consequences are standard procedure.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-Jan-17 @ 12:37 PM
Hi My son has problems with drugs. Hewas also attending the probation form 2015. His licenence was about to finish in November 2016.we as a family was very worried as he was on Methadone form 9 months but his mental and physical health wasnt improving. he was having suicidal thoughts. He was trying to get the job but struggling because of his records. He was trying to attend the local community recovery groups for support but nothing was working. We as a family decided to send him for rehab. Searched in the uk and visited some they were far more expensive than over pocket. We found one out side the country and send him for treatment in September. He is still going through therecovery. We gave all the details to probation after he was admitted.There was no correspondence received from the probation however today the police officer came on the door and told us that they have arrest warrant for my son for not attending court for not attending probation. We got very worried as we have told everything to the probation and nothing was hidden. We want to know how the arrest warrant can be removed as when he will come back to the country it will flag up. He is doing really well and we feel that it is going to create another barrier for him. Please advise.
DON - 10-Jan-17 @ 7:40 PM
Well I was arrested for defending myself while pregnant and now I am pregnant again and I have a doctor note saying can not do any lifting or standing and I am bed rest what can I do
Krista - 9-Jan-17 @ 5:53 AM
Well I was arrested for defending myself while pregnant and now I am pregnant again and I have a doctor note saying can not do any lifting or standing and I am bed rest
Krista - 9-Jan-17 @ 5:51 AM
My husband has been arrested and will be in court on Monday, he is currently on a supervision order for past domestic incidents which is due to end next month, he has been arrested for breach of the peace as we were both arguing and a neighbour called the police. He hasnt done anything wrong this time. What is likely to happen to him and will I be charged to.
kim - 7-Jan-17 @ 9:55 PM
Ttmx - Your Question:
Hi my partner just got convicted and is a serving a year in prison for assualt on me, he broke my finger and gave me a really bad black eye amongst other things, the cps carried in with a victimless prosecution as I found it too difficult and impossible too give evidence against him. This may sound very ridiculous but he was made to sign a form to not contact me nor can I visit him, my mother I think was behind this as I accidentally told her he called me once from prison. Are there any laws strictly stopping me from being able to visit my ex partner ? How do I now make it possible to visit him ? I'm scared of peoples judgment regarding the situation, so im really left with no one to help me regarding this. Thank you very much.

Our Response:
I think in this case you may wish to speak to Women's Aid, please see link here, or Offenders' Families helpline here as you don't say who made you sign the form (i.e the court or Social Services) and whether the form is binding. Therefore, it makes it difficult to advise. However, please keep in mind that if you do visit your partner against any order, then the visit will be logged and recorded and this may impact upon you in the future.
CourtroomAdvice - 3-Jan-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi My son's probation officer has asked him to provide a family tree going back to great grandparents to show his support network. He is supposed to provide names, ages and who knows about his conviction and who is supportive. We have asked all the people concerned and with the exception of one person all have said they don't want their details (names & ages) being used. They have said it is ok to put their relationship with my son and whether they know and/or support him but no other details. Is this ok ? Has his P.O. overstepped the mark by asking for personal & private info without asking for permission from the people involved ?C.K
C.K - 2-Jan-17 @ 10:32 PM
Hi my partner just got convicted and is a serving a year in prison for assualt on me, he broke my finger and gave me a really bad black eye amongst other things, the cps carried in with a victimless prosecution as I found it too difficult and impossible too give evidence against him. This may sound very ridiculous but he was made to sign a form to not contact me nor can I visit him, my mother I think was behind this as I accidentally told her he called me once from prison. Are there any laws strictly stopping me from being able to visit my ex partner ? How do I now make it possible to visit him ? I'm scared of peoples judgment regarding the situation, so im really left with no one to help me regarding this. Thank you very much.
Ttmx - 2-Jan-17 @ 9:13 AM
I just wanted to ask because I am really confused...my boyfriend got six years in prison and I found out you only do half of the sentence in the prison and the rest put of prison but what will happen if he is getting deported from the country?? Does he have to do the whole sentence ??? I am really confused thank you anyone who takes the time to read this and hopefully answer my question!!!
Sabz.1 - 27-Dec-16 @ 11:47 PM
I meant to say he hasn't been before the courts for over 16 yrs.ended upwith a fine & lost license for 3mths.
Louie - 26-Dec-16 @ 5:28 AM
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