A community order, sometimes referred to as community sentences, allow judges or magistrates to tailor a sentence to meet the needs of a person with a conviction. The sentence is served in the community under the supervision of an Offender Manager. This is still considered a punishment, in that it may restrict the movements and activities of a person with a conviction, as well as encouraging attendance at activities or treatment-based interventions that are rehabilitative in nature.  

Sentencers can impose several different conditions, or ‘requirements’ on the order to enable a person with a conviction to address their offending behaviour. There are a total of twelve different requirements although a person with a conviction would not have all the requirements attached to their order. Less serious offences would generally carry only one or two whereas a more serious offence may have three or more elements to the order. There are 3 levels of a Community Order, Low, Medium and High. A low level order would require one or more elements whereas a high level would require two or more.

The requirements are as follows:

Supervision – by a Community Rehabilitation Company. Where a person with a conviction will have to attend regular meetings with an Offender Manager who will undertake work with them to change their attitudes and behaviour.

Unpaid Work/Community Payback – up to a maximum of 300 hours set work performed for the benefit of the community.

Curfew –where an person with a conviction can be ordered to stay within the confines of their home during certain hours of the day for up to six months. The curfew can be for up to 12 hours within a 24 hour period. Curfews are usually electronically monitored.

Accredited Programmes – the person with a conviction must attend a group or one-to-one programme designed to address behaviours that lead to offending, such as programmes for drink-drivers, sex offenders or those who misuse drugs.

Rehabilitative Activity Requirement– A RAR should be proposed when the person has clear rehabilitative needs, when appropriate activities are available and where these needs cannot be met by an accredited programme or a treatment requirement.

Prohibition – the person with a conviction is barred from certain activities, for example attending a football match or going to a pub, on a particular day or days for a period determined by the court.

Exclusion – where a person with a conviction can be excluded from entering certain areas for up to two years. This may include electronic monitoring.

Residence – where a person with a conviction has to live at a certain address for example approved premises such as a hostel or a private address. This is approved by the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) or the National Probation trust (NPS).

Mental Health Treatment – this can only be imposed with the consent of the person with a conviction, and is done under the direction of a doctor or psychologist.

Drug Rehabilitation – this includes testing and treatment and can also only be imposed with the consent of the person with a conviction. This is designed to reduce or eliminate their dependency on drugs.

Attendance Centre – the person with a conviction must attend a centre for between 12 and 36 hours. They may focus on developing their social skills at the same time as challenging their offending behaviour. This can only be imposed on people under the age of 25.

Alcohol Treatment – the person with a conviction is required to attend treatment to reduce or eliminate dependence on alcohol.

A Foreign Travel Prohibition Requirement – this must not exceed 12 months.

Alcohol Abstinence and Monitoring – is a power given to the courts that allows them to order people with convictions to abstain from alcohol for a period of up to 120 days and to be regularly tested for compliance.

These requirements are also available to the courts when a suspended sentence is imposed upon an person with a conviction.

This page was updated on June 2020