Community payback orders


One of the key challenges for the Scottish justice system is how to deal with low level offenders who commit minor crimes.

For many, the punishment will be a prison sentence of six months or less, but if the aim is to punish, whilst making sure these offenders do not go on to commit further crimes again in the future, the evidence shows that this system is not working. Many are simply going on to carry out more crimes time and time again upon release

The overall aim is to bring together a range of options for sentencers which balances punishment in a way which also addresses the areas of individual’s lives which need to change.

CPO is intended to serve the following main objectives:

  • Achieve a positive impact on individuals
  • Require individuals to make payback to the community.
  • Replace an unnecessary complex range of community sentences and increase public understanding.
  • Ensure the level of intervention matches the level of assessed risk.
  • Create a robust and consistently delivered community sentence, which enjoys public confidence and credibility.

Sheriffs will still have the discretion to send offenders to prison if they think this is the best way to deal with the offender - this is a presumption against, not the abolishment of such sentences

Sentencing in each individual case is always a matter for the Court and the Scottish Government cannot intervene in matters of the Judiciary. However, it does have a responsibility to make a wide a range of sentencing options available to Sheriffs, Judges and Justices of the Peace.

The use of other agencies in the delivery of Community Payback Orders is critical to the success of providing the Court with credible and robust community based sentence for appropriate individuals who come to our attention.

All community Payback Orders will be supervised in line with the National Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System

What will Offenders Have To Do?

Requirements can include:

  • Carry out hours of unpaid manual work in the community
  • Be subject to periods of supervision
  • Specific conduct requirements to address re-offending
  • Pay compensation to the victim or victims
  • Participate in alcohol, drug or mental health treatment interventions
  • Have their conduct and behaviour monitored by community Payback Teams
  • Identify employability and training opportunities

How will this help your community?

Offenders will be required to carry out unpaid work in your community, including:

  • Clearing pathways of snow or ice
  • Building eco-plant areas for school children
  • Repainting community centres or churches
  • Market gardening and distributing the produce to care homes and local charities
  • Creation and maintenance of community allotment sites


We will consult communities regularly to identify projects that they feel would benefit their area. Fife has a generic e-mail box that members of the community can e-mail suggestions for projects. The e-mail address is:

If you would like more information or to be involved in our consultations, please contact us using the details on the right hand side of this page.

Criminal Justice Services
Tel: 01592 583657 Fax: 01592 583646 Contact Criminal Justice Services online
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