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Over 355,000 hours of community service work carried out by offenders last year

The 2018 annual report of the Probation Service is published today.

Image: Shutterstock/Zoka74

OVER 355,000 HOURS of community work were carried out by people serving Community Service Orders last year, a new report reveals.

The 2018 annual report of the Probation Service – published today – states that there were 2,449 Community Service Orders made in 2018, an increase over 10% on the previous year. 

The Probation Service – which is responsible for assessing and managing offenders (people convicted of an offence) in the community – dealt with 15,777 offenders in the community and 2,524 offenders in prison over the course of the year.

The top six offences (making up 80% of all offences) which resulted in referrals to the service include:

  • Theft
  • Drug offences 
  • Assault
  • Public order 
  • Road traffic 
  • Burglary 

The majority of new referrals were 25-34 and 18-24-year-olds. The service also supervised 648 young people under the age of 18. 

A Community Service Order can be imposed by a judge as an alternative to a prison sentence of 12 months or less for persons aged 16 years and over. 

It requires offenders to perform supervised work that is beneficial to the community as opposed to serving time in prison. A judge may sentence someone to perform between 40 and 240 hours of work and an order must be completed within a year.

“The Community Service Order is a very valuable part of the criminal justice system, allowing an offender – where appropriate – to repay their debt to society by carrying out unpaid work in their community rather than by spending time behind bars,” Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said in relation to the report. 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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