Community Service Order

Community Service as a Punishment

As an alternative to a custodial sentence, many criminals are punished by having to do community service for a fixed period of time. This type of punishment is usually reserved for an offense that is not so serious, so a murderer or rapist would not receive a community service order from a judge. Those who are guilty of less serious crimes are increasingly being given community service orders. They will usually have to serve out their community service for a certain period decided by the judge who sentences them, and this could be anything from 40 hours to 300 hours. The judge will also decide on what community service you should perform.

What are the different types of community service orders?

The most well known community service order is called community payback. This type of punishment is generally manual labour which is arduous. The offender will typically wear an orange vest to distinguish them as a person doing community service for their crimes, and it will take place in the area in which the offender lives or committed their crimes. The offender can chose when to do the community payback, but they must do a minimum of six hours a week until the punishment period is fulfilled. If an offender misses some of their community payback work without good reason, it's likely their community service order will increase or they might even face a custodial sentence.

The general community payback tasks are:

- removing graffiti from walls and buildings
- clearing away overgrown areas so the public can use them
- clearing the rubbish from wasteland or areas near to a road
- decorating public places, such as community centres.


In recent years, members of the public have been able to suggest ideas for community payback to the law courts that they think would be of benefit to their town or city.


Alongside community payback you might have to complete other programs as part of your community service order. These can be:


- Job and educational training, which are designed to teach the offender important life-skills in order to attain work. This could be learning to read and write properly or showing the offender how to apply for jobs and determine the skills the offender has.

- Drug Treatment programs, which are designed to help the offender get off substances they are addicted to, and have to commit crimes in order to fund their habit.

- Anger Management programs, which are set aside for those who commit violent crimes because of their short temper.


The offender might also be subject to a curfew, be monitored with an electronic tag and have restrictions on where they are allowed to go (e.g. no entry into bars and public houses).

What are the benefits of community service orders?

This form of punishment is beneficial because

- It seeks to reform the criminal. By serving out a community service order the criminal will learn about the value of hard work whilst being able to learn some valuable life skills which could help them turn their back on crime

- It saves the country money. Locking someone up in a jail is a very costly method of punishment

- It helps the criminal turn their back on addictions and other problems which are the causes behind their criminal lifestyle.