The UK Rules
Community Sentences

Community Sentences UK

A court judge can choose to hand out a community sentence instead of giving a custodial one. Check the rules of community sentences and Community Payback in the United Kingdom.

NON-CUSTODIAL SENTENCES: What exactly is a community sentence? In simple terms, it means a court convicted you of a crime but the judge decided not to send you to prison.

In some cases, such as in Community Payback, the order means you must perform some unpaid work for a determined number of hours.

As a rule, the work would take place in your local community (e.g. clearing litter or repairing buildings).

UK courts can order community sentences for the offenders of crimes that include:

There are pros and cons with handing out community sentences. As a rule, it generally means that either:

Note: The rules on community sentences (such as 'community service' or 'community orders') differ in Scotland.

Community Payback Rules

Community Payback provides an opportunity for local communities to get involved. They can suggest suitable areas for offenders to help rejuvenate as part of their Community Order.

Even though Community Payback benefits the community it is unpaid work. It includes a range of projects such as:

A Community Payback supervisor will manage the programmes. As a rule, those who take part will work in their local area. Community Payback rules force you to wear a high visibility orange vest when you work.

As a rule, the seriousness of the crime committed would determine how many hours you work. But, Community Payback can be anything from 40 hours to 300 hours. In most cases, unemployed offenders would have to work three (3) or four (4) days each week.

Note: If you have a job they will arrange the hours you complete to be outside your normal working hours. This may mean working during the evenings or at weekends. If you are a resident, you can nominate a Community Payback project in your local area.

Programmes and Treatment

There is a range of different treatment or programmes handed out. The aim is to help tackle the problems that led to committing the crime in the first place. The treatments and programmes also focus on stopping offenders committing further crimes.

In some cases, the range of programmes and treatment courses could help with:

There are several ways that any particular treatment or programme can involve an offender. Common examples include:

Note: You must complete a treatment or programme. Failing to do so, or failing a drugs test, means you can sent back to court. If that happens your punishment may increase.

Community Sentences Rules: What You Can and Cannot Do

The court, and the 'offender manager' will determine what you can and cannot do during a community sentence. As a rule, the restrictions include:

Note: You must stick to the rules of a community sentence. Failing to do so means you can get a warning or get sent back to court. If that happens your punishment may increase.

Community Sentences for Young Offenders (under 18)

In the UK, community sentences for young offenders differ from those handed out to adults. A court can give out three (3) main types of community sentences:

The court processes in the United Kingdom also allow them to issue a discharge. That means they decide that the experience of being arrested and attending court is sufficient punishment for the crime.

Youth Crime Prevention Programmes

A different section explains how youth crime prevention programmes work in Britain. Find out how young people end up on a programme and how mentoring can involve parents and families.

As part of a community sentence they may also order the wrongdoer to speak to the victim. That process provides an opportunity for culprits to:

Note: Breaking the rules of a community sentence means you could end up back in court. Anyone who is recently released from custody can get sent back to prison.

How Community Sentences Work in United Kingdom