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Probation and Community Sentencing

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 16 Oct 2019 | 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]
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
Hi my son is 20 he got into a fight on a night out last Christmas he only got involved to defend his cousin who was being held down to the floor by a guy who had his hands around his throat he was turning blue my son ran to his defence with his other cousin they pulled the guy off him a scuffle broke out the mistake they made was kicking the guy while he was on the floor it didn't last long no harm was done to either side but they got arrested after a doorman rang police the footage was on cctv so my son and 2 nephews where given 300 hrs a 2 year suspended sentence and a big fine! My son works 3 different shift patterns and breeched it on the Saturday after the long shift he had done the night before so his probation officer sent him back to court though he did ring a couple days later and ask her for another chance she said no it's too late I've already sent it to court so he goes the magistrates and the letter was read out from the pbo saying he would benefit more by going to jail so he's now back up in the crown court 22-12-18 just days before Christmas he has still been going and doing the hours every Saturday he's a good lad who works hard and never got in bother before now he feels he's being treated like a naughty criminal his probation officer has done nothing to help only seems to be making his life worse sending him to prison would mean him loosing his job when he worked so hard to get the job after always being in dead end warehouse jobs since leaving school he's only 20 and finally things where starting to fall into place for him he was starting to see a brighter future for himself I don't know what to do to help him it breaks my heart and his little sisters we are so afraid he's not going to be here for Christmas we can't afford solicitors fees I can't understand why this probation being so hard on him he's tried ringing a couple of times to ask can he be transferred but he gets told she's not in the office yet leaves messages and she never rings him back feel like theirs no help at all and the judge will just take her advice and lock him up my son does not need locking up or any sort of counsiling he never went out and commited a crime intentionally it was an incident that happened in the heat of the moment yet hes got a heavypunishment like he really deserves it what are the chances him being locked up for Christmas??
Sj - 10-Dec-18 @ 4:57 PM
My partner is going to court for the second time due to not attending and unable to get evidence. Is he likely to go to prison this time around.
Leanne - 29-Nov-18 @ 1:03 PM
I have to do community service every week but with my job my days off could change each week can I do community service any day I want so it fits round work
Coey - 14-Oct-18 @ 10:32 PM
Hi, my partner got 18 months probation, 12 months driving ban and 60 hours unpaid work.... I don’t understand what the 18 months probation is? It was for dangerous driving. He’s had two meeting so far with probation and says there are quite a few people in these meetings and it’s about employment, however he’s only jobless because of the driving ban as he was a courier. They have said there are two meetings left. So what is the 18 months for? I am so confused and he doesn’t quite understand either
2018nik - 31-Aug-18 @ 10:20 AM
@Shovel1 - I don't think it's negotiable. It's meant to be a punishment.
RoLO - 20-Jul-18 @ 10:17 AM
bob - Your Question:
Hi I had a fine never paid it went to court got 40 hour community service I've dine 12 hours but missed it 3 times now I need to go back to court it's the first time I ever breached community service will I get another chance to do it or will I get the jail thanks

Our Response:
We cannot predict what a court may decide.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:50 AM
One of my work colleagues works from 7 until 6 each week day (5-6 is overtime) and Saturday 7-1pm (all overtime) He's been ordered to do 200 hrs community service and has to do this on a Sunday from 9 until 5. He also has to go to an anger management or some sort of family course from Monday evening from 5pm until 7pm. This seems excessive as he works pretty much all the time and Sunday is the only time he can rest or see his family. His English is very poor and I think he's not been able to fight his corner when it came to this. Is there a way he can get the community service reduced to say, half the hours on a Sunday?
Shovel1 - 19-Jul-18 @ 10:11 AM
hi I had a fine never paid it went to court got 40 hour community service I've dine 12 hours but missed it 3 times now i need to go back to court it's the first time i ever breached community service will I get another chance to do it or will i get the jail thanks
bob - 17-Jul-18 @ 8:37 PM
Hello, I have today been informed by my probation officer that I am no longer able to partake in the Building Better Relationships program that I have been partaking in and completed the introduction and three one on one sessions.The reason I was given was that they do not feel that the program can help me as I do not recognize any unhelpful behaviors within myself.I was convicted of Section 20, Wounding and sentenced to 12 months suspended, 100 hours community service, a fine and to attend and partake in the BBR program.I have completed all of the community service, have attended all appointments, and have been paying the fine. My probation officer has stated that because I am no longer on the BBR program, the matter must go back to court and my probation officer feels that because I am not on the BBR program, the alternative of 1 on 1 sessions with my probation officer directly, to address my offending behavior, is not suitable. I am concerned, as without an alternative, I feel that a judge is likely to sentence me to the original custodial sentence.I have no prior convictions and have not been in any incidents since my original arrest. What options might be available to me in order to reduce the chances of a custodial sentence and is a judge able to quash the BBR part of the sentence on grounds that this was a decision made by probation and not from a lack of attendance or engaging within the program? I am very concerned about this and would like some help.Thank you.
silenced - 5-Jul-18 @ 2:10 PM
Woody - Your Question:
Hello im in breach of probation for the 1st time and ive been taken to court for this im worried as I have a suspendid sentence 24months 30rar sessions and completed my community service as of may 18 can someone give me some info on what could happen many thanks

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here, which should help answer your question.
CourtroomAdvice - 26-Jun-18 @ 11:46 AM
Hello im in breach of probation for the 1st time and ive been taken to court for this im worried as i have a suspendid sentence 24months 30rar sessions and completed my community service as of may 18 can someone give me some info on what could happen many thanks
Woody - 25-Jun-18 @ 7:01 PM
I have finished my community service. I also have an appeal which is connected the hours i had to complete.What happens if my appeal is overturned. Do i get compensated?
Marc - 19-Mar-18 @ 2:36 PM
Can a probation officer not give a sentencing plan ? My RAR days have been stopped also I got upset I'm mentally ill does the probation officer have to follow mental health act? Can I go back to court for health break down? Thanks
Shavase - 23-Feb-18 @ 12:10 PM
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