Community Payback

An Unpaid Work Requirement (known as Community Payback) is one of the 12 requirements that can be included in a community order. It involves offenders doing compulsory work for the benefit of the community.

All offenders undertaking Community Payback are screened to assess the risk they may pose to the public, and are closely supervised at all times. They will have to perform between 40 and 300 hours of payback. The requirement is imposed as a punishment but it may have rehabilitative elements to it.

Community Payback is a very rigorous sentence that is also beneficial to the community. Community Payback is strictly supervised and incorporates other aspects like Skills for Life provision. Community Payback can provide a better opportunity for rehabilitation to the offender, and therefore help us protect the public in future.

Because Community Payback involves lots of intensive supervision, it provides a unique opportunity to teach offenders new cognitive and practical skills. Community Payback supervisors are trained to act as positive role models and to encourage the development of pro-social attitudes and behaviour towards work, other individuals and the wider community. It also gives offenders the chance to learn new skills in real situations – this style of practical learning suits offenders much better than more traditional teaching methods, and cultivates problem solving, interpersonal and employment-related skills. These skills are vital if the offender is to return to ‘normal’ society.

As with all community sentences, Community Payback is closely monitored, and offenders who do not obey the rules will be breached and returned to court.

If you wish to learn more, please read our Community Payback leaflet (.pdf).

We are keen to promote awareness of Unpaid Work under the Community Payback logo. Offenders on most projects wear branded high-visibility vests and may also display a Community Payback signboard.

Offenders working hard to make amends.


In general Community Payback is given to low and medium risk offenders. It is not a suitable sentence for high risk offenders. Typical crimes are motoring offences, public order offences, theft and other dishonesty.

Community Payback projects rely upon public nominations.

All offenders are carefully assessed before they are allocated to work projects to ensure the safety of the public. Groups of offenders are also supervised by trained probation staff.

Offenders are closely supervised by probation staff.