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Court Orders involving unpaid work in the community

West Lothian Criminal and Youth Justice Service currently operates five different types of unpaid work order: Community Payback Order (CPO), Community Service Order (CSO), Probation Order with condition of Unpaid Work, Supervised Attendance Order (SAO), and the Procurator Fiscal Work Offer. All these orders offer someone who has committed an offence the opportunity to carry out useful work within the community.

The five different types of unpaid work order currently used in West Lothian are:

  • Community Payback Orders (CPO) - Unpaid Work and Other Activities Requirement. Used for offences committed after 01/02/11, this community sentence can be combined with a number of other requirements to ensure that offenders are involved in a combination of activities that will support them in their efforts to avoid re-offending.
  • Community Service Order (CSO). Used for offences committed before 01/02/11, a CSO is a direct alternative to custody. Range of hours: minimum 80 hours, maximum 240 hours (300 hours on Solemn Procedure).
  • Probation Order with condition of Unpaid Work. Details as for Community Service Order.
  • Supervised Attendance Order (SAO), for non-payment of fines. Used for fines imposed before 01/02/11. Range of hours: minimum 10 hours, maximum 100 hours.
  • Procurator Fiscal Work Offer - a work-based alternative to prosecution offered in the same way as a Procurator Fiscal Fine. Range of hours: minimum 10 hours, maximum 50 hours. This is currently part of a Scottish Government pilot project.

These different orders are similar in many ways. They are all designed to provide an opportunity for people to carry out useful work for the community, either for community groups or individuals in need. The main differences are in their purpose, in the number of hours that can be imposed, and in the punishments that can be used if someone fails to comply without good reason. All these orders and ways of dealing with offending are intended to reduce the unnecessary use of custodial sentences.

All these orders are managed by staff of the Community Payback Team, based in the Civic Centre.

How can I find out if offenders carrying out unpaid work could carry out work for me?

We have clear criteria to help us decided whether we can help you. Offenders are not allowed to take on work that would otherwise be someone's paid employment, and the work has to have a clear social benefit, either for an individual, a community group or a not-for-profit organisation. We have to be sure that we can carry out the work in terms of health and safety aspects. We need to consider whether we have the skills available to carry out the work at the time you want.

While the Community Payback Team can provide a workforce and skilled supervision, you would be responsible for the costs of materials needed for your project. We can help you work out what you would need.

We provide a service for all of West Lothian and would be pleased to hear from you about ways in which we could help your community. To apply for help from Community Payback Unpaid Work, please use the word icon Community Payback Work Referral form [728kb].

What does a person have to do if they have been placed on an order involving unpaid work?

Community Payback at Beecraigs Country Park 1
Community Payback in Beecraigs Country Park
The person is expected to follow all instructions given by their case manager. This includes attending to carry out work, and also attending office appointments if there are problems with completing the hours of work that were ordered.

Anyone on a court order is also expected by law to notify their case manager immediately of any change of address or of work arrangements (hours of employment). This is important, to ensure that we can continue to keep in touch with people and to make suitable arrangements for them.



What sort of work may people do as part of their unpaid work?

Unpaid Work Painting Team
Unpaid Work Painting Team
There is a range of opportunities available, including working with voluntary organisations (where workers will be supervised by a member of the organisation) and in work teams, supervised by Community Payback Unpaid Work Supervisors. Work teams carry out a range of tasks, including painting and decorating, gardening, landscaping and environmental projects, and furniture removals for a local charity. In an innovative new project, we are collecting and renovating unwanted bikes, to pass on to charities and people in need.

Not all options will be available for everyone. The case manager will have to take into account the risk assessment prepared on the person, and will consider what skills they have, when they can be available for unpaid work, and of course what places are currently available.

How can people who work full-time carry out their unpaid work?

Charity Shop
Charity Shop
The Criminal Justice Service is obliged by law to take into account any genuine demands made by a person's employment. This means that we have to make arrangements for people to carry out work at a time when they are not contracted to work for their employer. As a result of this, we have work opportunities available throughout the week, including evenings and weekends.

Please note that, while we will try to take into account any overtime that someone is being asked to do by their employer, they may however have to turn this down if that is necessary to allow them to carry out unpaid work as directed by the court.


What happens if someone does not keep to the conditions of the order?

Fence construction at Almond Valley Heritage Centre
Fence construction at Almond Valley Heritage Centre
There is a clear disciplinary code that is applied to each order. The end result of non-compliance will be breach proceedings; what happens if the breach is found to be correct by the court depends on the type of order.

As with every court order, such situations are avoidable, and we always urge everyone on a court order to keep in touch with us about problems they are having.




If circumstances change and someone cannot complete their order, what happens then?

There is a separate process for taking orders back to court if someone is unable to finish the number of hours ordered by the court. A Review of an order can be arranged either by the  case manager or by the individual (or their solicitor). We have found that the courts will take a reasonable view of genuine problems.