A Community Order is the most severe form of non-custodial sentence that courts in England and Wales can impose (as Suspended Sentence Orders are technically custodial sentences). A Community Order should generally be imposed in cases too serious to be dealt with by either a fine or a discharge but not serious enough to merit a custodial sentence. At least one of 13 possible requirements must to attached to a Community Order. If the offender does not comply with any requirements of their Community Order they can be referred back to court and the court has the power to amend the terms of the Order so as to impose more onerous requirements, impose a fine of up to £2,500 or revoke the Order and re-sentence the offender to any sentence available to the court for the offence(s) (including imposing a custodial sentence). The number of Community Orders imposed by courts has more than halved in the last decade: 195,627 Community Orders were imposed in the year to June 2009 and that fell to 90,633 in the year to June 2019.
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Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (2015) Community sentences since 2000: How they work – and why they have not cut prisoner numbers https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/CCJS_ACE_Rep_Sept15_ONLINE%20FINAL3.pdf
Centre for Justice Innovation (2017) Community Sentences Across Borders https://justiceinnovation.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/2019-03/cji-community-sentences-across_borders.pdf
Ministry of Justice (2019) The impact of short custodial sentences, community orders and suspended sentence orders on reoffending https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/814177/impact-short-custodial-sentences.pdf
Sentencing Council (2016) Imposition of Community and Custodial Sentences https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Imposition-definitive-guideline-Web.pdf