If you have been in court, you may have some questions.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that will help you:
You will meet with a probation worker from the National Probation Service before the court sentences you. They produce reports for magistrates and judges to help them decide if a community sentence is appropriate for you.
If the court gives you a community-based order which is managed by the community rehabilitation company, one of our case managers will work with you. Your case manager will be responsible for managing your sentence and give you support to help you stop offending.
If the court gives you a prison sentence, a case manager from either the community rehabilitation company or the National Probation Service in the local area, will be responsible for supervising your licence following your release. In prison, our resettlement team will give you support with any immediate needs and help you prepare for release.
A community order is made up of one or more ‘requirements’ that the court say you must complete.
A suspended sentence order is a prison sentence you serve in the community. It is made up of one or more ‘requirements’ the court has ordered. If you breach the order, you can automatically be sent to prison.
The courts use the following requirements most frequently for a community order or suspended sentence order:
- Rehabilitation activity
- Unpaid work
- Accredited programme
- Drug rehabilitation
- Alcohol treatment
- Attendance centre
If you do not follow the rules of your community or post sentence supervision order, we will send you a warning letter or breach you. Failure to follow the rules includes:
- Missing an appointment without an acceptable reason
- Attending an appointment late
- Failing to notify your case manager of a change of address
- Behaving in an unacceptable manner.
If you miss an appointment without good reason, we will give you a warning or take you back to court for breach of your order. The court may:
- Add more requirements to your order
- Add additional hours to an existing unpaid work requirement
- Extend the length of your order
- Re-sentence you to a new order
- Fine you
- Send you to prison.
You should not miss any appointments we give you as part of your sentence. If for any reason you cannot attend an appointment it is important that you contact your case manager straight away.
You must provide acceptable evidence within six working days of missing an appointment. If you are unable to provide this evidence, any warnings we issue will remain in place and continued misses may lead us to breaching you, which could result in you being returned to court.
Evidence may include medical appointment details or evidence of illness, letters from employers or letters from other agencies detailing your appointments, for example, Jobcentre Plus.
Most people who go to prison will complete part of their sentence in prison and part in the community.
Following release, in the community you will be on a licence or have a supervision requirement or a combination of both, depending on the length of sentence you receive.
Your case manager will set licence conditions which the prison governor agrees before your release.
Licence conditions will take into consideration your offence and aim to reduce or manage any risks you pose. Before you leave prison, the prison will be given a copy of this licence which you must follow. Your licence also tells you when your licence and sentence ends.
You may receive a formal or final warning or be returned to prison for a fixed-term period or even for the rest of your licence period.
You will continue to report to a case manager who will help you address any problem areas but it has less restrictive conditions than your licence period.
We may give you a warning if you breach these conditions or return you to the magistrates’ court to face further penalties. These include:
- A fine
- An electronic tag to enforce a curfew
- Changes to your post-sentence supervision requirements
- Being sent to prison for up to 14 days.
You will have six working days to provide evidence for any missed appointments.
Acceptable evidence may include medical appointment details or evidence of illness, letters from employers or letters from other agencies detailing appointments, for example Jobcentre Plus.
If you are unable to provide this evidence, any warnings we issue will remain in place and continued misses may lead to us breaching you.
You should not miss any appointments you are given as part of your licence or supervision. If for any reason you cannot attend an appointment it is important that you contact your case manager straight away.