Publication - Advice and guidance

Community Payback Order: practice guidance

Published: 25 Jan 2019

This updated guidance replaces 'National outcomes and standards for social work services in the criminal justice system: community payback order practice guidance' issued in 2010.

Community Payback Order: practice guidance
5. Key Features of the Community Payback Order

5. Key Features of the Community Payback Order

Key features of the order include:

  • A Community Payback Order (CPO) is a sentence of the court.
  • A CPO can be imposed in addition to another sentence e.g. a CPO can be imposed alongside a fine.
  • Monetary penalties (e.g. fines, compensation orders) and deferred sentences remain available to the court as disposals separate from CPOs.
  • There is no minimum age for a CPO (other than the age of criminal responsibility) except where an unpaid work or other activity requirement is made in which case the individual must be aged 16 or above.
  • Where an individual is under 18 years of age, the court can remit back to the children's hearing system for disposal. The CPO is not however available to the children's hearing system as a disposal.
  • CPOs can be made for a period of between 6 months and 3 years other than an order consisting solely of an unpaid work or other activity requirement. The latter requirement must be completed within 6 months (3 months for a level 1 requirement) unless the court determines otherwise at the point of sentence.
  • No requirement, other than an unpaid work or other activity requirement, will be in operation longer than that of any offender supervision requirement.
  • Where existing provisions require to be extended to allow for completion of the requirement; this can be sought through application to the court.
  • An offender supervision requirement is mandatory when a CPO is imposed on an individual under 18 years old.
  • An offender supervision requirement is mandatory when the following requirements are imposed by the court: a programme requirement; a residence requirement; a mental health treatment requirement; a drug treatment requirement; an alcohol treatment requirement; a conduct requirement; and a compensation requirement.
  • The consent of the individual is needed before the court can impose a CPO unless the order is imposed under section 227M(2) of the 1995 Act for fine default.
  • There is no limit on the number of requirements which can be imposed by the court. However, in writing a Criminal Justice Social Work Report (CJSWR) for the information of the court, report writers must consider the risks of reoffending and the harm caused by previous behaviours, the needs of the individual and the intensity of supervision required, to inform the court as to appropriate requirements which could be included. The requirements recommended by the CJSWR should be proportional, relevant and outcome focussed.
  • The requirements that can be imposed by a Justice of the Peace court as part of a CPO are limited to an offender supervision requirement; level 1 unpaid work or other activity requirement; a residence requirement; a compensation requirement; and a conduct requirement.
  • A further offence committed during a CPO is not a direct breach of the order; however, if an offence is committed which contravenes a requirement, and guilt is established, this may result in the CPO being breached through failure to comply with that requirement.
  • Application can be made to the court for early discharge of a CPO. This might be appropriate in circumstances where an individual has exerted significant effort, made highly positive progress, and the assessed risk/needs are reduced to the extent that there is little benefit in continuing to intervene in the individual's life. The power for a court to discharge a CPO applies irrespective of the requirements contained in the CPO.
  • An application to the court to vary a CPO can be made by the responsible officer[3] or the individual if the individual's circumstances have changed since the imposition of the order.
  • There is facility for the court to conduct discretionary progress review hearings at any time within the duration of the CPO. Where the court decides to conduct a review hearing this will be included in the CPO at the point of sentence. The responsible officer is required to submit a progress report in advance of the review hearing.
  • There is a statutory requirement upon local authorities to consult annually with communities, representatives of community organisations and other relevant organisations about the type of unpaid work or other activities to be undertaken by individuals on whom such a requirement is imposed.
  • Although not a statutory requirement, for individuals subject to a CPO who have caring responsibilities, every attempt must be made to accommodate such responsibilities in the case management plan so that they do not impede, and are not impeded by, the individual's ability to comply with the CPO.
  • Consideration must also be given to section 227E of the 1995 Act which sets out a number of conditions which must be met with regard to an individual's religious beliefs, and employment, voluntary work and education.


Email: Community Payback Orders - General Enquiries