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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pre-sentence report?

A probation officer from the National Probation Service (NPS) will interview you and prepare a pre-sentence report. This may take place at court or at a probation office. The purpose of the report is to provide magistrates or judges with a detailed picture of the circumstances of your offence and your background, to help them make a decision on the most appropriate sentence.

You will be asked why you committed the offence, your feelings towards any victims and any mitigating factors. The probation officer will also look at whether there was any additional culpability, for example the extent of any violence or damage inflicted, or whether the victim was particularly vulnerable.

The report will also look at the risk you pose to others and your chances of re-offending. Once the report had been completed the National Probation Service will present it to the court. A copy will also be provided for you and your solicitor. Once the report has been presented to the court a sentence will be passed. This will either be a discharge, fine, community order or custody. Once sentenced your case will either be allocated to the National Probation Service or the Community Rehabilitation Company.

What is a Community Order?

A Community Order will be imposed for offences that are serious but not so serious as to warrant custody. It means your punishment will be carried out in the community instead of in prison. A community order will be imposed by the court as a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) with some additional requirements.

Following sentencing in court your allocated offender manager will work with you to identify how to use the days allocated to your sentence to address your offending behaviour and reduce your risk of re-offending.

When you are sentenced to a community order, this could be for a number of reasons:

  • As punishment
  • To reduce crime
  • To change the way you behave and help you stay away form crime
  • To protect the public
  • To make you pay back something to the community or to the victims of your crime

On a community order you will have an offender manager who you must keep in contact with.

In addition, depending on the requirements you have been given, you will be required to meet or work with other probation service staff, an officer in charge of an attendance centre, or an electronic monitoring officer.

The court and South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (SYCRC) expects your offender manager to make sure you stick to the rules of your community order and requirements and complete your sentence successfully.

What are the rules for your Community Order?

You must:

  • Keep all appointments on time
  • Follow the instructions you are given, including attending group programmes and keeping appointments with other agencies as required
  • Tell us beforehand if you need to re-arrange an appointment, explain why and provide proof within 5 days
  • If you miss an appointment, you must tell us why and provide proof within 5 days
  • Co-operate with your supervisor in addressing your offending behaviour

You must not:

  • Change your address without the prior consent of your Offender Manager
  • Come in for supervision under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Talk or act in any way that offends other people or is aggressive on SYCRC premises
  • Behave in a way which makes your supervisor think the public is at risk
  • Commit any further offences


What if I break the rules?

If you miss an appointment or break the rules of any of the requirements you are given, your offender manager will ask you to explain why. If there is a good reason for not being able to keep the appointment you must provide evidence.

This might be a doctor's note, a letter from your employer etc. If your reason is not acceptable, the offender manager must take action.

The first time anyone breaks the rules of a requirement they might receive a final warning - or if their behaviour is particularly serious they might be sent back to court.

If anyone breaks the rules for a second time within 12 months without a good reason, they must be taken back to court

It is very important that you attend your appointments and work hard to complete your sentence.

If you fail to comply with the community order you can be returned to court where you will usually receive a more severe penalty.


What happens if I get sent back to court?

If you are sent back to court for breaking the rules of your sentence the court must take action. Depending on your situation, the court might decide to:

  • Make you do more requirements
  • Make you do different requirements
  • Make the existing requirements harder
  • Send you to prison

If you do not want to risk going to prison, it is very important that you follow the rules of your Community Order and the requirements that you are given to do.


What is a Programme?

You may be sentenced to a programme requirement or a Short Duration Programme as part of your community order . This means you will be expected to attend and work as part of a group, one or more times a week (depending on which programme it is.) The programme will help you to understand the reasons behind your offending and will assist you in developing ways to change your thinking and behaviour and stay out of trouble

Your programme tutor will explain the rules to you before you start the programme. You must attend every session, turn up on time and behave appropriately and treat others with respect.

Poor behaviour will not be tolerated within the group.

If you break the rules without good reason you will receive a warning or be taken back to court.


Probation staff - who are they and what do they do?

Offender Managers

If you are sentenced to a community order or licence you will be managed in the community by an appointed offender manager who will be responsible for ensuring that you stick to the rules of your order or licence and will work with you to change your behaviour and reduce or stop your offending.

Your offender manager will manage you throughout the length of your order or licence and you will need to meet with them regularly. They will develop a sentence plan with you, and help you to make positive changes in your life.

It's up to you to make it work. It is important to keep up a good relationship with your offender manager, talk to them about what you need and do what they ask you to do.


Other probation staff

In addition, during the course of your community sentence, you may need to meet with other probation staff. This could be for a number of reasons including:

  • reducing your drug or alcohol use
  • finding accommodation
  • referring you to other services in the community who can assist you in changing your lifestyle
  • identifying employment, training and education opportunities.


Community Payback

If you are sentenced to an unpaid work requirement, you will need to report to a Community Payback Unit where a community payback officer will interview you and direct you to work on any of a wide variety of community projects. Examples of these are:

  • Gardening
  • Small building projects (paths, walls, landscaping)
  • Cooking and serving at lunch clubs

You will also be supervised by a member of the Community Payback team while you are working.


Programme tutors

If you are sentenced to a programme requirement, you will be required to attend a programme that is appropriate for your needs and work as part of a group for a set number of sessions.


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