Skip to content

Our Customer Service opening hours are 8.45am - 4.45pm, Monday to Friday. The Payment Centre hours are 9am - 4.15pm, with only credit/debit card payments (not cash) between 1pm and 2pm. 

Live chat: If you cannot find what you're looking for, or need help completing an online form, our Customer Service Officers are available on live chat between 9.00am - 4.45pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Live chat 

Criminal Justice Social Work Services

Community Payback Order

Pages containing information about Community Payback Order's.

Community Payback Logo2

This information is available to download and print:

What is a Community Payback Order?

A Community Payback Order (CPO) is an alternative to custody designed to ensure that offenders payback to society, and to particular communities. Often an offender will have to carry out unpaid work. In addition, the offender will often be required to address and change their offending behaviour to improve the safety of the local community and help them re-integrate to the community as law abiding citizens.

If you are sentenced to a CPO, your order will include at least one requirement.

Requirements within a CPO

The court will select one or more requirements to impose in the CPO, taking into account that the requirements will have to be achievable. The requirements 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.

When will a CPO be made?

A CPO can be imposed as an alternative to a prison sentence. A court can also impost a CPO with a range of requirements instead of, or as well as, a fine.

Unpaid work and other activity

Community Service

Where the law would have required courts to impose short jail terms or a supervised attendance order on people who default on fine payments, courts can now impose a CPO including an unpaid work or other activity requirement of up to 100 hours.

For other offences, unpaid work or other activity requirements can be imposed for between 20 and 300 hours.

If you are sentenced to unpaid work and other activity within a CPO, there are strict timescales to complete this requirement unless the court states otherwise:

  • Up to 100 hours: 3 months
  • Up to 300 hours: 6 months

Supervision Requirement

If you are aged below 18 when you are sentenced to a CPO, the court will include an offender supervision requirement. It will also include a supervision requirement if any other requirement is imposed on a person of any age.

  • A Community Payback Order (CPO) is an alternative to custody. An Offender Supervision Requirement is one of nine provisions available to sentencers which can be imposed as part of a CPO.
  • For more information on CPO's
  • The court will require the offender to attend appointments with a Criminal Justice Social Work Case manager (responsible officer) or another person determined by the responsible officer for a specified period of time.
  • With the exception of Unpaid Work for individuals aged 18 and over, none of the CPO requirements can be imposed without the addition of a Supervision Requirement.

Reviews at Court

The court may schedule periodic review hearings to check on your progress during a CPO.

Early Discharge

In circumstances where you make highly positive progress during a CPO, the court may decide to discharge the order early.

Breaching a CPO

If you breach a CPO, the court can vary the order and impose new or different requirements.

It can decide to impose a restricted movement requirement (electronic monitoring or 'tag') or it can decide to revoke the order and sentence you to a period in custody or any other sentence which it could have used in the first instance.

Other requirements in a CPO

The court can include a number of other requirements in a CPO, as listed above. If any of the following are included, a supervision requirement will also be imposed:

  • Compensation requirement 
    Payment for injury, loss, damage etc. arising from offending. This must be paid within 18 months unless the CPO is for less time - your social worker will discuss this with you.
  • Programme requirement 
    If the court wants you to take part in a programme (group work or individually) to address your offending behaviour.
  • Mental health treatment requirement 
    This is different to other mental health orders and the individual must agree to comply with this requirement. It can be imposed to help an individual access assessment and treatment a registered medical practitioner or psychologist to improve the individual's mental health.
  • Drug treatment requirement 
    This can be imposed where drug issues are identified and the aim is to help the offender recover from drug misuse.
  • Alcohol treatment requirement 
    This can be considered where some is dependent on alcohol and where this makes offending more likely.
  • Residence requirement 
    The court will specify where the offender shall live and any address will be assessed by criminal justice social work services to make sure it is suitable.
  • Conduct requirement 
    This can be imposed by courts to ensure good behaviour or prevent further offending. This could include preventing an offender from approaching an individual or going to a particular place.

Please note: However, if you committed and offence before 1st February 2011, you will be prosecuted under old rules.  Supervision is called probation, unpaid work is called community service and a supervised attendance order is available instead of a fine. These terms have been in use for many years and are familiar to many people.


Help improve this webpage

Was this page helpful?

Please use the official complaints channel if your comment is about service provision:

Complaints, feedback and having your say





(Include if you would like a response to your feedback)