Skip to main content

Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Community order

This is part of our information section on understanding your criminal record.


Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?

Issued by the court – contact the relevant court.

Does it involve guilt?


Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?


Is it classed as a conviction?


How long will it be on my record?

It will remain on the PNC indefinitely and can still be mentioned in future criminal proceedings even after it has become spent.

When does it become spent?

Length of the order + one year.

When do I have to declare it?

You do not have to declare it after it is spent except for an occupation exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, like working with children. Before it is spent you do need to declare it, when asked, to employers, insurers and others.

Is it disclosed on DBS checks?

Yes, it be disclosed on both standard and enhanced checks unless it is eligible for filtering. Once it becomes spent, it won’t be disclosed on a basic check.

What guidance is there on fair process?

The Sentencing Council provide guidelines on community sentences to try and ensure uniformity in sentencing.

Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?

All appeals about the handling of your case by Probation, should be made to the relevant National Probation Service office. If you are still not satisfied your complaint has been dealt with, contact the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman who have a legal responsibility to investigate all complaints.

What are the implications for life in the community?

A community sentence is managed by the probation service and can involve a range of requirements and programmes. Breaking the terms of your order can result in a return to court or prison.

What can it include?

Community orders, sometimes referred to as community sentences, allow judges or magistrates to tailor a sentence. The sentence is served in the community under the supervision of a Probation Trust and should be considered a punishment, in that it may restrict your movements and activity, as well as encouraging attendence at activities or treatment-based interventions that are rehabilitative in nature.

Sentencers can impose several different conditions, or ‘requirements’ on the order. There are a total of twelve different requirements although an offender 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.

The requirements are as follows:

Supervision – by a Probation Trust. This is where you’ll have to attend regular meetings with a probation officer who will undertake work with you to change 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 you can be ordered to stay within the confines of your 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 – designed to address behavioural issues such as general offending, violence, sex offending, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence and drink impaired driving. May be group based or one-to-one.

Specified Activities – for example improving basic skills, or undertaking reparative work.

Prohibition – from undertaking certain activities. For example attending football matches, public houses or shopping centres.

Exclusion – where you can be excluded from entering certain areas for up to two years.

Residence – where you have to live at a certain address for example approved premises such as a hostel or a private address.

Mental Health Treatment – this can only be imposed with your consent 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 your consent. This is designed to reduce or eliminate your dependency on drugs.

Attendance Centre – where you (up to the age of 25) are required to attend a particular centre at a certain time for between 12 – 36 hours during your sentence.

Alcohol Treatment – this can only be imposed with your consent and lasts up to three years. This is designed to reduce or eliminate your dependency on alcohol.

These requirements are also available to the courts when a suspended sentence is imposed.


Add Comment
  1. Hello, I have been sentenced with a low/medium community order yet have received no contact from the responsible officer save for the letter from the court outlining the order. Legally, who’s responsibility is it to contact who? If i receive no contact could it be argued the PS were at fault and my CS rendered void?

    1. Hi Alan

      In my experience, it is normally the case that the responsible officer at probation will get in touch with you to arrange your first appointment. However, from time to time the system does break down and if you haven’t heard from probation I’d suggest that you get in touch with them. It could be that your probation officer is unwell but it will be noted that you have made contact. It’s extremely unlikely that your community order will be rendered void because probation haven’t been in contact with you especially where it can be demonstrated that you’ve not been in contact with them either.

      Kind regards



    2. Word of advise be mindful that although you have a community officer they drop the ball A LOT and if you don’t take the initiative to make sure you are following the process YOU will be the one to suffer the consequences. i.e if you are missing an arranged meeting make sure you tell them well in advance etc or have extra rehabilitation classes you have to take (If it inst done on time you might end up having your probation period extended)

  2. Hi there,

    I have been given a community order for sexual assaults and i was wondering when traveling to USA, would it stop me from entering and do I have to declare it or will it show automatically on their system?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi George

      As you may be aware, when you travel to the US you will need to apply either for an online visa waiver (referred to as an ESTA) or a visa from the US Embassy.

      There are questions about criminal records on the ESTA form and if you were to answer ‘Yes’ your ESTA will usually be refused and you would need to apply to the Embassy for a visa. This is more expensive than the ESTA and can anything from 3 – 6 months to be granted. You can find further information on applying for a visa at

      If you are currently on the SOR then you would need to inform the police of your intention to travel to the US. Potentially the police could ‘flag’ your passport which would alert US immigration to your SOR status which could lead to you being denied entry when you enter the USA.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Best wishes


  3. Hi. I was convicted of Petty theft I think when I was 18, this was 26 years ago. I was given 120 hrs of community service. I’m currently applying to go to Japan with work for 28 days and have to apply for a temporary visa. It says on there have I been convicted of a crime in any country. I’m assuming I have to tick yes? If I don’t as it’s spent, what can happen?

    1. Hi Graham

      I can confirm that your conviction would definitely be considered ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) and would no longer appear on a basic Disclosure and Barring Service check.

      However, visa applications are exempt from the ROA and both spent and unspent convictions would need to be disclosed.

      Best wishes


  4. I’ve recently been given a community service order for a 80 hours would it be possible to appeal to get a curfew or tag given instead as at the time I didn’t have a solicitor and did not know you could request a certain order.
    I also have medical issue’s that are currently effecting me.

    1. Hi Claire

      If you are having difficulties in fulfilling the requirements of your community order, then I’d recommend speaking to your probation officer. In some cases, it may be possible to make alterations to your order and your probation officer should be able to advise you on the process.

      Best wishes


  5. Hi, I have a ‘Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm’ with a 150 community order back in Nov 2005. Is this spent as I wish to become a trustee of a charity? TY

    1. Hi Maria

      I can confirm that your conviction from November 2005 is now deemed spent and wouldn’t need to be disclosed when applying to become a trustee of a charity.

      Best wishes


  6. Hi

    I was convicted of theft from an employer back around 15 years ago given 280 hours of community service will this show on a enhanced dbs check as I wish to work as a volunteer at a school.

    1. I was convicted of possession of class b drugs six years ago and was giving 200 hours community service , will this show on my enhanced dbs check

      1. Hi Jim

        I can confirm that your conviction for possession of class b would remain on your standard and enhanced DBS certificate for a period of 11 years.

        As you may be aware, the conviction is now considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) and wouldn’t be disclosed on a basic DBS certificate.

        Best wishes


  7. Hi
    I was convicted of assault to police officer roughly 18 years ago was given a curfew order will this have to be disclosed when applying for a voluntary job also if I wanted to be a key holder for a charity and have to have a dbs check done will this still appear on my record.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Kerry

      I can confirm that your conviction from 18 years ago is now considered ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and would not appear on a basic DBS check. It would now also be filtered (removed) from both standard and enhanced DBS checks and wouldn’t have to be disclosed to the charity when applying for a voluntary role.

      Best wishes


  8. Hi I had a year probation which finished in may along with unpaid work they have called me to come in for a meeting as they said I still had 60 hours unpaid work to do . Where do I stand if My probation has finished I went to every meeting and didn’t miss any unpaid work they sent me to . Isn’t this their fault and I’m no longer under their supervision as my orders finished

  9. Hi

    I was convicted of battery on 22/07/2022 I was given 40 hours unpaid work is this spent because I see some websites saying it’s 2 years after and some say when the order ended which was 1 year after

      1. Hi Debbie

        Thanks for your reply, do you know if this is a recent change? Because I was told at probation that it would be plus 1 year after the length of the order until it’s spent I’m just a little confused at the moment thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

Do you need help & support with an issue you’re facing?

We provide support and advice for people who need guidance with either their own, or someone else’s, criminal record.

Please use the search box to start typing your issue. If you cannot find an answer to your problem then you’ll be given options to contact us directly.

Find out more about the helpline

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now