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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.

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Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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