Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

The Community Order and the Suspended Sentence Order-Three Years On

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

The Community Order and the Suspended Sentence Order-Three Years On

Article excerpt

This report is the final publication in the community sentences series by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. The report authors are George Mair from Liverpool John Moores University and Helen Mills from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. The report focuses on the views of probation officers and of people subject to community orders. It also looks at the trend in the use of these orders since their creation by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

The report finds that the use of the suspended sentence order has grown significantly since its introduction. It is popular with magistrates and often used for summary offences. As a result, the suspended sentence order may be a route to prison for some offenders. There is little evidence that either the suspended sentence order or the community order is being used as an alternative to a short custodial sentence.

Some of the requirements available to the courts are only rarely used; alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, residence, exclusion, prohibited activity and the attendance centre requirements are all in this position. The use of unpaid work and curfew requirements have increased and the use of supervision and accredited programme requirements have decreased since 2005.

The probation officers interviewed in the study expressed reasonable confidence in the two orders. They would have welcomed the opportunity to use alcohol treatment and mental health requirements but these options were not often available. Thinking about the enforcement of orders, some probation officers argued that reoffending whilst subject to a suspended sentence order should always result in custody. Others also wanted the option to punish breaches of the requirements of these orders with a financial penalty. The probation officers questioned voiced their weariness with continual organisational and legislative change. …

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