Community Service Order:  This is a community-based sanction imposed by a Judge as an alternative to a prison sentence of 12 months or less for persons aged 16 years and over.  


An approximate figure of €4.5 million being performed by offenders on Community Service and Community Return in 2014.

It costs €5,000 to manage someone on probation - or €2,500 if they are on a Community Service Order. By contrast prison costs can cost up to €69,000 per prison place a year.  - Vivian Geiran

"Prison is a bad idea for 80% of inmates" - Criminologist Dr James Treadwell, Birmingham City University





Before imposing this sanction,  the Judge may request a Community Service Report from the Probation Service to inform their decision as to whether or not you are suitable to perform Community Service work.

If, after considering the reports produced by the Probation Officer, work in the community is considered an appropriate sanction, the Judge will specify the number of hours work to be done, (between 40 - 240 hours) and what prison sentence should be imposed if you fail to complete this work. The Probation Service is responsible for informing the Court if you do not complete this work.  

How it works: There are two principal ways in which Community Service work is carried out:

  • In small work groups supervised directly by a Community Service Supervisor who works for the Probation Service. The Community Service Supervisor remains on site with the group of participants.
  • In individual placements:  This is where you may be placed on an individual placement with a host organisation, other than the Probation Service, who agree to allow you to work the requisite hours within their organisation.  Host organisations who agree to allow Community Service participants work in their organisations are required to provide appropriate levels of supervision.
  • You are required to make your own way to the site.  You do not receive travel expenses.


Every year, thousands of hours of unpaid work are provided to not-for-profit, community and voluntary grouping through CSOs. The benefits of Community Service are many and varied -  but there are two principal goals: to give something back to your community for the harm that you have caused, and to provide a sanction that has the potential to provide valuable experience for the offender.


Community Service Activities                                                 Community Service Projects

General upkeep and maintenance                                              Schools 

Painting and decoration                                                              Community Centres

Gardening and landscaping                                                        Church grounds/parks

Horticulture                                                                                  Homeless hostels

Graffiti removal                                                                            Residential centres

Recycling                                                                                     Charitable organisations



Further Resources

Contact us at [email protected]

Click here for a list of Probation Service offices