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Community sentences

A community order combines punishment with activities carried out in the community.

A community sentence combines punishment with activities carried out in the community. It can include one or more of 12 requirements on an offender. This could be carrying out up to 300 hours of unpaid work, which might include things like removing graffiti or clearing overgrown areas.

It could also mean the offender is required to have alcohol or drug treatment – this aims to tackle the reasons why they have committed crimes. Offenders might also be required to keep to a curfew, which aims to keep them out of trouble.

Overall, the requirements aim to change offenders’ behaviour so they don’t commit crime in the future, and to make amends to the victim of the crime or the local community.

The full list of requirements are:

  • Unpaid work for up to 300 hours
  • Specific activities, such as developing skills or making amends to their victim
  • Undertaking a particular programme to help change offending behaviour
  • Prohibition from doing particular activities
  • Adherence to a curfew, so the offender is required to be in a particular place at certain times
  • An exclusion requirement, so that the offender is not allowed to go to particular places
  • A residence requirement so that the offender is obliged to live at a particular address
  • Mental health treatment with the offender’s consent
  • A drug rehabilitation requirement with the offender’s consent
  • An alcohol treatment requirement with the offender’s consent
  • Supervision by the Probation Service
  • Where offenders are under 25, they may be required to go to a centre at specific times over the course of their sentence.

In 2011, 173,434 offenders were sentenced to a community sentence, representing 13 per cent of offenders sentenced.

For more information about community sentences please see the sentencing guideline:


All of these statistics are taken from the Ministry of Justice’s criminal justice and sentencing statistics publications.