Community payback orders
Before judges can sentence someone to a Community Payback Order (CPO), they would normally have to first get a report from a criminal justice social worker. There are exceptions when a CPO can be given without a social work report. That is when the CPO is not above level one of the unpaid work (this is between 20 and 100 hours) or other activity requirement; or when it is being given for a fine that has not been paid.
The report will give the judge background information about the person such as any offences they committed before, their risk of offending again, their need to change their offending behaviour, and their health and their living situation.
A criminal justice social worker is also assigned by the local authority to supervise the different requirements of the CPO. In supervising the CPO, the social worker must consult with others, as necessary, including: judges, Police Scotland, voluntary groups, community councils and groups for victims of crime.
There are 10 different requirements that can be given as part of a CPO. The judge will decide which ones should be selected for each sentence. This will depend on what the crime is and what can be done to help stop the person from committing more crimes.
The 10 possible requirements are:
People subject to a CPO can be ordered to carry out between 20 and 300 hours of unpaid work. This is the most common requirement. Each community can put forward ideas to their local authority for the unpaid work. Examples include:
- cleaning beaches, graffiti, litter
- redecorating scout halls, schools, day centres, care homes
- gardening in parks
- clearing snow and gritting pathways
- helping in a charity shop or community cafe
- furniture and shop delivery for vulnerable people such as the elderly.
This requirement can also include other activities such as learning skills to help get work, for example how to write a CV for a job application.
This is the second most common requirement of a CPO. It aims to change the way the person behaves by making them attend regular appointments with a criminal justice social worker. The social worker can address what makes them offend, for example, poor decision-making. The social worker also monitors how they keep to the requirements in the Order.
The person can be ordered to pay money to their victims for injuries or distress they have caused, or damage to property.
The person can be ordered to attend a programme arranged by a social worker. These deal with offending behaviour and can cover a range of issues such as drug or alcohol misuse.
The person can be ordered to stay at a certain living address, for example, with their parents.
The person can be ordered to do certain things or not do certain things. For example, someone who has been convicted of shoplifting can be ordered not to enter the shop they stole from. Judges can only use this requirement if they consider that it will help stop the person from committing more crimes.
The person can be required to remain at a specific address for up to 12 hours a day, and/or to stay away from a specific address for up to 24 hours a day. This requirement can be imposed by the courts for a period of up to 12 months.
These make up 3 of the 10 different requirements of a CPO and deal with issues of mental health, drugs and alcohol:
If the person has been diagnosed with a mental health condition that plays a role in their offending, they can receive support and treatment. This can include staying in hospital or attending medical clinics. It can also include getting counselling or any other treatment put forward by a doctor.
If the person has an alcohol problem which is connected to their offending behaviour, they can be ordered to receive counselling or attend a clinic to deal with the problem.
Varying, revoking, and discharging orders
The court has the power to vary, revoke, or discharge a CPO on application either by the social worker supervising the order, or by the offender. A court will only do so if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so, having regard to circumstances which have arisen since the order was imposed.
When a court varies (changes) a CPO it can, among other things, add to the requirements imposed by the order, remove one or more of the requirements, or vary any of the requirements. This can include increasing or decreasing the number of hours of unpaid work to be carried out as part of the order.
When a court revokes a CPO, it can then sentence the offender again for the original offence as if the CPO had not been imposed.
When a court discharges a CPO, it is regarded as finished, and any conditions in it no longer apply to the offender.