Community sentences/Suspended Sentence Order

Community sentences are given by courts where they believe that this will be more productive than a prison sentence. They enable people to undertake rehabilitative programmes or work in the community whilst being supervised by a National Probation Service (NPS) or Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). These types of sentences are called ‘community sentences’ or ‘community orders’. Whilst a community sentence means they will not go to prison, it is by no means a soft option.
community sentences - man serving community sentence
When someone is given a community sentence they might be required to do unpaid work, receive help with addressing their offending behaviour or get help with other issues, for example housing, finances, training or employment. A community sentence can last up to three years.

Everyone who is given a community sentence will be assigned an offender manager. The offender manager is someone who works for a National Probation Service or Community Rehabilitation company. The person will meet with their offender manager on a regular basis and work through the supervision plan that has been tailored to address the issues that led to the offence being committed.

The offender manager works to ensure the person complies with all the elements of their sentence. Failure to stick to any of the elements could see a return to court which can lead to a extra conditions being imposed or it may result in being sent to prison.

If your family member has been given a community sentence you may initially be relieved that your family member has not received a custodial sentence. There can be challenges associated with supporting someone on a community order and you may have questions or concerns that you need addressing. If this is the case then there is information and support available via this website or by calling the freephone helpline on 0808 808 2003. Alternatively you can contact us via email on

To make it easy to print off the information provided in this section, either in Word or PDF format, we have created a library of Information Sheets which you can access by clicking here.

This page was updated on June 2020