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Criminal Sentences - Types of Sentence - Criminal Records

Criminal Sentences - Community Sentences

Unpaid Work

The court can include an unpaid work requirement as part of the community order. Under an unpaid work requirement, the offender works for up to 300 hours on local community projects under close supervision.
The offender is effectively repaying their debt to society; it is also designed to help develop new skills. Charities, community organisations and local authorities provide work places and benefit from the offender's contribution.

Activity Requirement

The Court could include a requirement for the offender to particiapte in a specified activity. This could consist of a wide range of activities, such as day centre activities, education and learning, or basic skills assessment and training.
The activity could also include reparation to the victims or the people and community affected by the crime. The activity requirement, which can last for up to 60 days, will normally be combined with a supervision requirement to support and reinforce the offender's rehabilitation and provide additional support.

Programme Requirement

The Court may impose a programme requirement for the offender to attend a group or individual programme. The programmes are designed to address the activities and patterns of behaviour that contribute to committing crime.
The programmes fall into five categories:

  • General offending
  • Violence
  • Sex offending
  • Substance misuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Prohibited Activities

    The Court may impose a requirement to prevent an offender from participating in certain activities on a day or days, or for a specific period of time. This is designed to prevent an offender getting involved in any activity that might lead to them committing more crime.


    The Court may use a curfew requirement to reduce the offender's opportunities for criminal activity. It may also protect the local community from anti-social behaviour.
    Who is this suitable for?
    Curfew is appropriate for people aged over 16 who do not need rehabilitative supervision, but where a curfew would be punishment and provide structure to their lives. Curfew hours are often set to times when offending has taken place, which could be during the hours of darkness. Orders last for a maximum of six months, with a curfew of at least two and up to twelve hours per day.

    What might it involve?
    A curfew order is similar to house arrest. People must stay indoors, usually at their home, for the curfew period. A tag, worn on the ankle or wrist, notifies monitoring services if the offender is absent during the curfew hours.

    Electronically monitored curfews are also used for prisoners released under a Home Detention Curfew (HDC).

    Exclusion Requirement

    This requirement may direct that the offender should not enter a specified area for a period of up to two years. The exclusion can be limited to particular periods and at different places for different periods or days.
    The offender will be electronically monitored unless the facility is not available or the court considers it unnecessary.

    Residence Requirement

    The court may instruct the offender to reside at a place specified, either and approved hostel or private address. Residence at an approved hostel automatically includes a supervised curfew.

    Attendance Centre

    The court can direct the offender to spend between 12 and 36 hours at an attendance centre, over a set period of time. The offender will be required to be present for a maximum of 3 hours per attendance once a day.
    The attendance centre requirement offers a structured opportunity for offenders to address their offending behaviour in a group environment while imposing a restriction on leisure time at the weekend.

    Mental Health Treatment

    With the offender's consent, the court may direct the offender to undergo treatment by or under the direction of a medical practitioner and or psychologist with a view to the improvement of the offender's mental condition.
    When deciding upon this requirement, the court must be satisfied that:

    on the evidence of a registered medical practitioner, the mental condition of the offender is such that it requires treatment, but does not need the intervention of a hospital or guardianship order;
    arrangements can be made for the treatment needed; and
    the requirement is suitable for the offender.


    The offender may be required to attend appointments with an Offender Manager from the Probation Service. The subject of the supervision and the frequency of contact will be specified in the sentence plan. The length of a supervision requirement must be the overall period for which the Community Order is in force.
    Typically during supervision sessions offenders may:

  • undertake work to promote personal and behaviour change;
  • monitor and review patterns of behaviour and personal activity;
  • undertake work to increase motivation and provide practical support to increase compliance with other requirements;
  • support and re-enforce learning undertaken as part of a Programme or Activity Requirement;
  • undergo individual counselling
  • get support from their Probation Officer on fulfulling other aspects of their Community Order

  • In specific cases, an Offender Manager might delegate supervision to another person who can provide the offender with specialised support and advice.

    Drug Rehabilitation Requirement

    A Drug Rehabilitation requirement provides fast access to a drug treatment programme with the goal of reducing drug related offending.
    Offenders agree their treatment plan with the probation and treatment services. The plan will set out the level of treatment and testing and what is required at each stage of the order.

    Who is this sentence suitable for?
    This type of sentence is appropriate for problem drug users aged over 16 who commit crime to fund their drug habit and show a willingness to co-operate with treatment. A Drug Rehabilitation Requirement requires motivation and determination from the offender, but support is provided by Probation and treatment staff to complete the programme successfully.

    What might it involve?
    Lasting between six months and three years, the Drug Rehabilitation Requirement aims to:

    help offenders produce a personal action plan so that they can identify what they must do to reduce offending and stop their use of drugs;
    explain the links between drug use and offending and how drugs affect health;
    help offenders identify realistic ways of changing their lives for the better.
    Treatment is carried out at a specified place, either as an in-patient or out-patient and includes regular drug testing and court reviews. You may also receive clinical treatment; a day care programme; health education; activities to improve social skills, education and career prospects and participation on an offending behaviour programme.

    A Community Order with a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement can be reviewed by the court. Failure to stick to the treatment plan will mean a return to court for breach of the order. This could result in re-sentencing which might mean prison.

    Offenders on a DRR must return to court each month to see the judge or magistrate who gave them the order to give a report on their progress.

    Alcohol Treatment Requirement

    The alcohol treatment requirement provides access to a tailored treatment programme with the aim of reducing drink dependency. The requirement can last between six months and three years.
    Before issuing an Alcohol Treatment Requirement, the Court must be satisfied that:

    the offender is dependent on alcohol, and may benefit from treatment;
    arrangements have or can be made for the treatment to take place;
    the requirement is suitable for the offender; and
    the offender expresses willingness to comply with the requirement and work at reducing their addiction.
    Failure to stick to the treatment plan may mean they have to return to Court. This could result in a further sentence, and may mean they will be sent to prison.


    Fines are penalties available to courts for a wide variety of offences. In the Magistrates' Courts offences that attract fines are subject to maximums from level 1 to level 5.
  • Level 1: £200
  • Level 2: £500
  • Level 3: £1,000
  • Level 4: £2,500
  • Level 5: Unlimited (for offences committed after 13 March 2015) - For offences committed before 13 March 2015 the level 5 maximum is £5,000
  • There's no limit to the amount the Crown Court can fine, but the amount will take into account the seriousness of the offence and the offender's ability to pay.

    Fixed penalty notices

    Fixed penalty notices are given for less serious offences such as parking tickets, speeding, graffiti and public disorder. Instead of prosecution, a fixed sum of money must be paid to a Magistrates' Court. Because the offence is assumed and there's no conviction you won't get a criminal record. You can also choose whether to pay the penalty or to contest the case.


    If someone is caught and convicted the criminal court may order the offender to pay compensation.
    The victim is required to supply the police with accurate details of their losses and, where possible, documentary evidence such as receipts. The police will pass this information to the CPS who inform the court.
    They can be compensated for the following:
  • personal injury;
  • losses through theft of, or damage to, property;
  • losses through fraud;
  • loss of earnings while off work;
  • medical expenses;
  • travelling expenses;
  • pain and suffering;
  • loss, damage or injury caused by a stolen vehicle.
  • If the court decides to make an order against the offender, he or she will be required to pay the money to the court which will pass it on to the victim. The court will take into account the offender's circumstances and ability to pay. An offender might not have to pay for the full amount of the loss and may be able to pay by installments rather than in one lump sum.


    A court can make an order to discharge an offender who has been found guilty.
    This happens when, having considered the character of the offender and the nature and circumstances of a crime, the court deems that punishment would not be appropriate.

    There are two types of discharge:

    Absolute discharge

    No further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor, or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record.

    Conditional discharge

    The offender is released and the offence registered on their criminal record. No further action is taken unless they commit a further offence within a period decided by the court (no more than three years).