Justice social work

What is a Community Payback Order?

A Community Payback Order (CPO) is a community-based sentence used by the courts and can be imposed as an alternative to custody.
The court can impose one or more of a range of requirements.

These are:

• unpaid work or other activity requirement
• offender supervision requirement
• compensation requirement
• programme requirement
• mental health treatment requirement
• drug treatment requirement
• alcohol treatment requirement
• residence requirement
• conduct requirement

How do I get put on a CPO?

If the court finds you guilty or you plead guilty to an offence, it may ask a Social Worker for a Criminal Justice Social Work Report. The report provides information about you and your past and current offences(s) and advice to help the court make a decision on which sentence to impose. This will include your suitability for a CPO.

A CPO can last from 6 months to 3 years except where an order consists only of unpaid work or other activity requirement, which may need to be completed within 3 months. 

Before an order can be made you have to agree to it in court.

What happens on a CPO?

A CPO is to help you to stop offending.

You will be seen by a Social Worker within 5 days. The Social Worker will draw up an ‘action plan’ with you based on the areas that you have identified where you need to make changes in your life to stop offending. 

You will see the Social Worker at least weekly for the first part of the order and there will be regular reviews of your progress. You may also be required to attend other agencies; for example, to help you find work.

If a programme requirement has been made, you may need to attend a specific course that will look at improving your problem solving skills or your drink and/or drug use.

If you are required to do unpaid work, you will also be seen by an Unpaid Work Officer within 5 days for induction and you must start your unpaid work within 7 days from the date of sentence.

The Social Worker will give you advice and support.

Records are kept and these can be seen by you if you wish.

At the end of the order, the Social Worker will send a report to the court explaining what you have achieved during the order.

What do I have to do?

You must:
• attend all appointments
• tell the Social Worker if you change address
• tell the Social Worker if you change job
• work with the Social Worker or other agency to look at why you offend and how you can stop this in the future.

The court can require you to live in a certain place or ban you from entering a certain street or place, and can also regularly review your order to check your progress.