What is a Community Service Order (CSO)?

Community Service Order is one of the non custodial sentencing options of the court where an offender 17 years and over is ordered by the Judge/Magistrate to do unpaid work in the community for minor non-violent offences as provided by the Criminal Justice (Reform) Act 1978.

How does it work?

The offender is required to perform tasks arranged and monitored by the Probation Officer and supervised by the agency's supervisor where the task is carried out.

The number of hours can vary from a minimum of forty (40) hours to a maximum of three hundred and sixty (360) hours for a single offence and up to four hundred and eighty (480) hours for more than one offence.

Failure to comply with the order, the offender will be brought back before the court, and punished for the offence as the Judge/Magistrate sees fit.

Who can receive help?

Organizations, which may use the service, are essentially non-profit making e.g. hospitals, infirmaries, children's home, schools, and public parks.

What type of work?

Projects which Orderees can be engaged in includes: cleaning, painting, gardening or working with elderly or disabled people or make use of your skill.

The kind of work done by people sentenced to community work can vary enormously.

Community Service Order Officers try to:

  1. Match people and skills to the tasks required or
  2. Obtain available tasks for which no special skill is required

The Probation Office will provide information as to where to work and may supply the tools you may need.

Who Do Not Benefit From Community Service Orders?

Persons who commit offence involving:

  • The use of, or the illegal possession of a firearm, or
  • The use of imitation firearm or the possession of an imitation firearm.
  • Persons who do not have a fixed place of residence.

What Happens When An Order is Made?

The Court dictates how many hours Orderee has to work. The Probation Officer instructs him/her where to work and the times. It will usually be one or two days each week until all the hours have been worked.

An Orderee is expected to start work within seven (7) days of the court order.

A record is kept of the hours worked on two (2) cards. One card is kept by the Orderee and the other by the Agency/Supervisor.


If the offender fails to comply with any of the requirements of the Community Service Order he may be summoned to appear before the court.

  • The offender may be fined.
  • His Community Service Order may be revoked.

What The Orderee Has To Do?

The Orderee will be given a copy of instructions setting out how they must behave and what to do.

  • When the Orderee is on the order, he/she must inform his/her community service Officer of any change of address etc.
  • Work where the Community Service Probation Officers tells him/her to work.
  • Report on time and work for the hours he/she is told to work.
  • Cooperate with his/her Agency/ Supervisor and Community Service Probation Officer.
  • Work as a team and treat others fairly and equally.

Does The Orderee have Any Rights While On Community Service Order?

The Orderee will be treated fairly and equally.

The Orderee can make a complaint if he/she feels that they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably. He/she should first try to discuss this with their Probation Officer and if he/she is not satisfied with the response, they can write to the Coordinator of the programme.

What If The Offender Has Any Questions Or Problems?

If the Orderee has questions or problems he/she should get in touch with their Probation Officer as soon as possible. The Officer will try to sort things out for them.