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Probation and Community Sentencing

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 10 Jun 2020 | 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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[Add a Comment]
A friend of mine used a card of an individual she was looking after and with drew 1000 pounds. She had postnatal depression and was in debt with threats of bailiffs. She has participated in a voluntary interview and admitted everything. She's now waiting to hear back. This is her first ever offence, will she be looking at a community order or much more?
Cf94 - 10-Jun-20 @ 2:45 PM
LT026 Spared 8 years in jail... I cannot answer your question if you exaggerate
Truth - 3-May-20 @ 12:15 PM
Hi am need some help on my son he has disability and learning disabilities and OCDADHD he was in courtfor missingprobationand he was on 12 months tag and got taken of it early go 24 months where shouldn't get in troublefine of 1000 pound and pay back and he had some changes in is life and a lot of health problems and mental healthhe had sick notes and becauseof missingprobation he done most of is tag so he had it taken ofhe gone to court thinking he wouldn't go to jail and he had sick notes for missedappointment i need help on how to appealwith is case evidence he has to say he been I'll alone side is hospitalappointmentsand don't think it's right he been sent too jail with all the in payedand fine and tag he done and not taken any of that in toit and sent him to jail no one helpinghim to understandthings when he as learning disabilitiesI need to get help on tryingto appealon it anyone help me thanks
Kellans40 - 22-Dec-19 @ 2:24 AM
I pleaded guilty on the advice of my solicitor who advised plead guilty as it will all go away. So on his professional advice I did. What a fool was I. I now have 3 Assaulted and Battery charges and 2 for criminal damage. I did not commit 3 of these offences and I understand we all say that but I didn't. He kept telling me to plead guilty he wore me down so I pleaded guilty. What a fool was I. At the magistrate court hearing nothing that happened to me came out. I was assaulted by 2 of the so called victims. One who says he is disabled but still is able to drive an articulated lorry. The magistrate's say it was a hate crime. I have constantly been indimitaded by 1 of the umm victims. I have scars on my body and 1 of the victims states in his witnessed statement he pushed me over. My partner was hit over the head by the victims and had to go to hospital. As I at the time of court had a sick note due to anxiety and stress I was unable to do comunity pay back. They sentence me to 5 month curfew from 7pm to 7am 7 days a week. My family live a 3 hour drive from me. My mum is in a care home in the final stages of dimension. My dad is 86 has cancer and other major health issues but those lovely magistrates did not give a dam. I might as well have gone to prison. This was my first effence. Even the prosecutor was shocked at the harshness of the sentence. I am totally devastated as I am unable to see my family. For all of you in this situation I wish you the strength to get through this. I am totally devastated.
Sad Lady - 4-Dec-19 @ 3:25 PM
I am a female & was charged with drink driving & was given 200 hours by the courts & ordered to see a probation officer on a weekly/two weekly basis. The probation officer didnt think it suitable for me to be collected by the probation services van they provided me & sweep streets etc & placed me in a local womens centre instead. I am now having to provide me own transport by which I have completed 50 hours costing me £150 on the bus so far. Is this fair because I really cannot afford a further £450 to complete the hours?
Tracy - 3-Dec-19 @ 7:57 PM
I'm on suspended sentence and in breach of my community service.. I have a valid reason as to why I didn't turn up on the 15th but not the 16th am I looking to do a custodial sentence ?
Bhjbfb - 2-Dec-19 @ 3:12 PM
Hello can anyone help me? I’ve got court in a few hours for 2 assaults and 1 criminal damage they gave me in court yot for 3 months and I aint attended any of the meeting? Does anyone know what will happen to me? Could I go jail or will they give me another longer yot or tag? I’m 17 with really bad anxiety I need some help please.
Katielouise9459 - 2-Dec-19 @ 4:32 AM
Hello can anyone help me? I’ve got court in a few hours for 2 assaults and 1 criminal damage they gave me in court yot for 3 months and I attanded 1 meeting? Does anyone know what will happen to me? Could I go jail or will they give me another longer yot or tag? I’m 17 with really bad anxiety I need some help please.
Katielouise9459 - 2-Dec-19 @ 4:27 AM
Hello my boyfriend went to court and received a fine and community service, he missed two community services while I was pregnant, the first breach was due to me having virtigo and he didn’t want to leave me on my own to look after a one year old and be pregnant when I was having an episode. We’re now worried That he’s going on to go to prison, does anyone have any ideas on what will most likely happen
Jamie - 28-Nov-19 @ 5:39 PM
Hi there my friend had court in England in April for using a company credit card and obtained £10,000. It was found that he was suffering from PTSD as a result of 3 tours in Afghanistan and had secretly began gambling. He was spared 8 years in jail and given a suspended sentence and suspended for two years months, and must pay £3,721.17 in compensation. He must also complete a 25-day rehabilitation order within two years, as well as 150 hours of unpaid work within 12 months. What does the 25 rehabilitation order mean? And suspended sentence? I’ve not heard from him in 2 weeks as I live in Scotland and I’m worried he’s ended up in jail and I have no way of finding out as I don’t know how to contact his family. Can I find out if he’s in jail?
LT026 - 12-Nov-19 @ 12:52 PM
My boyfriend has been told he has missed an appointment with the probation officer that he knew nothing about. He was living with me but temporarily moved back to Wales and requested to have probation moved there. He has been trying to contact his original probation officer and was told to wait for a letter which he didnt get. He's going to the probation office first thing in the morning but we're now worried that he'll be recalled to prison. Can they do that if he never knew of the appointment and has chased the original officer?
Conners89 - 3-Nov-19 @ 10:11 PM
I'm under a 3 yr community order and I've been arrested for drunk and disorderly. I was told by police I would just get a fine in court is this likely
Dino6 - 2-Nov-19 @ 12:12 PM
Jpalmer31 the order or the hours will not disappear. Your community service must take priority. Itnis only 60 hours so not impossible. I've seen people do that amount in less than 2 weeks. If you fail to do them, prepare to go to court as you will be in breach of the order. Fail to turn up at court and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. It will only go on longer and cost more.
David - 27-Oct-19 @ 4:55 PM
Im on a community order for criminal damage i have been complying but i havent turned up to every appointment or unpaid work i got 80hours i got my hours down to 4 but then was breached i got extra 20 but i then got a job i tried to let my om know but couldnt get hold of her ive now been breached again if i were to go jail when released will i still have to serve my community order im on cause if so thats being sentenced twice aint it
Dan - 16-Oct-19 @ 12:50 AM
If you did not go to jail, you are lucky. Stop winging and do everything to follow your order. Or you deserve jail.
JulesXX - 12-Oct-19 @ 3:36 PM
Can anyone give me some advice, I have 60 hours left on my cs order, I’ve recently self funded to get my qualifications to go work on the wind turbines, it’s working away and have just had my interview. Was just wondering if I get offered the job what will happen with community order. Will I get breached. Don’t want it effecting my new career.
Jpalmer31 - 8-Oct-19 @ 12:27 PM
Back at court on the 3rd for harrasment without violence second time been guilty for it I'm doing community order at the min with 23 hours left but was wondering what I might get when go to court as I have been good with probation and I am a carers for my father
Nozza - 27-Sep-19 @ 7:39 PM
My daughters boyfriend attacked my partner broke his nose and fractured his jaw. He is in Community Service. It's been reported, so will he be sent back too court
Ms Cristol Elaine Pu - 26-Sep-19 @ 12:09 PM
Hi, my brother was issued with 200 hrs community service. He didn’t show to any, he then got sent back to court and got an extra 50 hours. He still didn’t show for any and now a warrant is out for his arrest. Is he likely to go to prison as he’s got sentenced originally in early 2019.
Seb - 21-Aug-19 @ 5:14 PM
My partner missed a probation appointment one time due to illness and is now up in court as his probation officer has breached him, he's not on license and is on pss.can someone give me advice on what could happen today, will he get sent back to prison or is he coming home with me tonight?! I'm stressed out bad
Katielouise - 7-Aug-19 @ 12:32 PM
I Have been issued250 hrs for the offense, would that be reduced,as I am working part time and hardly and income coming.and stress is killing me. What I should be doing. Please help.
Seb - 24-Jul-19 @ 12:40 PM
Hi, I currently have 131 hours left of cs, its once a week but I'm finding it hard to get childcare. Can you exchange cs for a curfew?
Kk - 24-Jul-19 @ 12:27 PM
Hi, I was wondering if you could please help me. My partner's currently on PSS for common assault towards me. His PSS ends in October. His parents are making it very difficult for us to have any kind of relationship and has blackmailed my partner saying that they will tell probation he's been staying in my home with our daughter (which is untrue). They've given him the ultimatum of he either leaves me and stays living with them in misery or they'll ring probation and telk them he's broke PSS which is untrue. I was just wondering what the procedures are with him changing address and living with me. I can't cope seeing him do miserable and hurting there. The plan is for him to move straight back after PSS. I know a lot of other couples have hAd their homes approved. Please help. I'm at my Witt's end and my partner is contemplating walking away from our relationship over this because he's so scared to go back. Please help!!!!
Rubix - 11-Jun-19 @ 7:29 AM
Hello I have around 90 hours of community work still to complete by November 2019. Due to many stand downs by the Probation service, I may not have the time to complete the hours? Will the sentence be revoked after the 12 months has passed? Thank you.
stormer - 10-Jun-19 @ 11:42 AM
My son served 2.5yrs of a 4yr sentence. He was released on licence and has to report to probation for the next 2yr. He has done a year on licence and has a year left. He has been arrested for an alleged assault. He was released from the police station,with charges and a court date...(2 months time). Then the police turned up 2 days later, told him to pack a bag and they took him back to jail. He hasnt been to court, he hasnt been found guilty. He has been in the prison for nearly 4 week now, his court date is another 3 week. Just that i was reading the above and it says, probation will send you to court and a judge will decide if you should go back to jail. Can anyone give me an answer? Please
Mother - 26-May-19 @ 8:09 PM
I have just been given a suspended sentence, ordered to pay £300 court costs and i have to do 200hrs community service. I have never committed a crime as such, i was in possession of a knife in my vehicle that i use for work purposes in a work van. Is there anyway in which i can shorten the number of hours of community service by paying a larger fine ?
Bob345 - 2-May-19 @ 11:43 PM
I was told in court I had a 12 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and had to do 25 days R&R I am now being told by probation that I have to attend at least once a month who do I listen to as there was no mention of being supervised in court
John - 2-May-19 @ 1:15 AM
My husband had community service issued a year a go but has had surgery and been unable to complete his community service through ill health they have now said he must go back to court. What will they do instead of his community service or are they likely to cancel it as he is still unfit for work
Sam - 19-Mar-19 @ 7:21 PM
Hi, my own is simple,going to short it, my name is samuel, have been in the UK for over 10 years no crime, the year am working on my stay, was the year I got arrested, friends took me out cuz I love to entertain on a night out 27th 28th of January 2018, from a hall party to club, my first time In that area in Coventry, club m, I was told I can't come in, while people who brought me. Was already in,i was trying to ask why, but no answer given, okay, asking the doorman could you help call Atleast 1 of the people who brought me out here, I got soccer punched in the jaw, my jaw got. Broke, instead of me to fight back, I never, I had to call the police thinking I was doing the right thing, police came to the schene, I was trying to point out the doorman I never had the chance, police got mad that am drunk and disorder, my jaw is broken, got arrested my blood on them and in their car. I was charged to court Got guilty Pls will this affect my stay Cus I still don't know why the MET police did all that..
Sammy - 21-Feb-19 @ 9:33 AM
3rd time back at crown for breaching unpaid work.. Anyone know if I'm likely to go to prison?? Last time I did not attend. I did try calling the office to do an extra day to make up for the missed one.. Its just so difficult. Getting through on a phone. Bloody ridiculous.
None - 16-Jan-19 @ 8:02 PM
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