Your sentence

If you’ve just left prison or you’ve been given a sentence to serve in the community, you’ll be referred to us.

Sentences explained

Here is a brief explanation on the types of sentences.

Community Order

This is a sentence given to you by a court which you must serve in the community.

This is instead of going to prison. As part of your Community Order, you might have to complete a number of court requirements, such as doing unpaid work or completing a behaviour programme. You’ll also be given support to help you stop offending.

Suspended Sentence Order

This is a prison sentence which has been ‘suspended’ or delayed as long as you comply with a number of court requirements such as getting treatment for an addiction, doing unpaid work or observing a curfew.

It means that you’re effectively serving your prison sentence in the community. If you break the terms of your suspended sentence, or you commit another offence, then you could be sent to prison.

Prison sentence

There are a number of different types of prison sentences. If you've been released from prison on licence (usually half way through your sentence), you'll serve the rest of your sentence in the community. Your licence will carry certain conditions and, if you break them, you could go back to prison

Prison licence

You’ll have to attend regular meetings with a probation worker and you’ll get support to help you settle back into the community as part of our Through the Gate service.

Post Sentence Supervision

Following your licence period you may be subject to a period of Post Sentence Supervision. If you break the conditions you may be returned to Court.

Completing your sentence

An experienced probation worker will help you to complete your sentence while giving you the support you need to stop offending in the future.

After you have been sentenced at court, you’ll get an appointment for your first meeting with a probation worker.

You must keep this appointment or you risk being arrested and returned to court.

At the first meeting you and your probation worker will agree a sentence plan for you to follow.

It might include:

  • doing unpaid work called Community Payback
  • attending a programme where you'll learn new skills to  help you change your behaviour
  • being tested for possible drug use
  • sticking to a curfew
  • doing an education or training course
  • getting treatment for problems such as drug or alcohol dependency
  • having regular meetings with your probation worker.

Supporting your rehabilitation

We can also give you the support you need to make a fresh start and move away from crime for good.

We’ll work with you to look at areas of your life where you might need help. It could mean looking for a new home, getting a job, applying for benefits, sorting out debts, overcoming addiction and planning for your future.

If you’ve been given a community sentence, this type of support is known as a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR), which has to be completed as part of your sentence plan.

If you’re leaving prison, you’ll receive this support as part of our Through the Gate service.

What we expect from you

We’ll do what we can to help you complete your sentence but it’s important that you make the effort yourself.

You must:

  • stop offending
  • arrive at appointments on time
  • follow your sentence plan such as attending a behaviour programme or carrying out unpaid work
  • arrive with a clear head and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • actively take part in meetings and group sessions
  • get our approval if you want to move home
  • tell us if you change your phone number
  • treat our staff with respect
  • tell us if you’re having problems with any part of your sentence plan.


Sticking to the rules

It’s important that you co-operate with us throughout your sentence. You should turn up for appointments on time, follow the requirements of your sentence plan and treat our staff and the other people you meet with respect. If you don’t follow the rules, you could go back to court or to prison.

What if I miss my appointment?

If you miss an appointment, you need to contact us as soon as you can to tell us why. You’ll need to provide proof of the reason why you missed the appointment, such as a letter from your doctor.

If you know in advance that you’ll have to miss an appointment, you must tell your probation worker so that they can approve the absence. They will want to know the reason why and will ask for evidence, such as a letter from your employer if you have to work on the date of an appointment.

What happens if I don’t turn up for an appointment?

If you miss a meeting with your probation worker, or you don’t arrive for a session doing Community Payback, a programme or work at an Attendance Centre, we’ll give you a warning. If you miss a programme session, you’ll need to do a catch up session before the next group meeting. If you miss another appointment and your reason is unacceptable then you could go back to court.

Break Rules reminder iconWhat if I break the rules?

If you break the rules without good reason you’ll usually receive a warning in the first instance.  If you continue to break the rules you’ll be taken back to court where you could:

  • get a more serious sentence
  • get a different or longer sentence
  • get a harder sentence such as doing more hours of unpaid work
  • be sent to prison.

What happens if I break the terms of my prison licence?

If you’ve been released from prison and you break the terms and conditions of your licence, you could be recalled to prison or depending on how serious this is, you might receive a warning. If you’re considered to be in breach of your licence, you can be immediately recalled to prison.

Change Address reminder iconWhat happens if I want to move home?

If you’re thinking of moving home, you’ll need to get approval from your probation worker first. If you change your telephone number, you must tell us straight away.

Make a fresh start

If you’ve been given a community sentence we can help you to look for a new home, get a job, apply for benefits, sort out debts, overcome addiction and plan for your future through the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

Settling back into your community

If you are about to leave prison, our Through the Gate (TTG) service will help you settle back into the community.