Jersey Probation and After Care Service (JPACS) runs a Community Service scheme which has been in existence since 1982. It is operated under bespoke legislation entitled Criminal Justice (Community Service Orders) (Jersey) Law 2001.
The Community Service scheme exists to provide the criminal Courts with a credible community based custodial alternative penalty. The sentence allows the Court to require an offender, found guilty of an imprisonable offence, to perform a specified period of unpaid work in reparation to the community against which he had offended. Every person sentenced to Community Service would otherwise be serving a sentence of imprisonment or youth detention.
The number of hours ordered by the Courts during 2009 equates to 23,642 compared to 14,862 in 2008 and 17,937 in 2007.
Assessment and Sentencing
The power to sentence offenders to Community Service is available to all Courts, which may make an Order in respect of a person who has attained fifteen years of age and who is found guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment (other than those offences for which the sentence is fixed by law). The Magistrate’s and Youth Courts can impose up to 180 hours community service; the Royal Court up to 480 hours.
Whilst there is no formal scale translating the number of hours of Community Service to the custodial alternative, it is incumbent upon sentencers to stipulate what period of youth detention or imprisonment the Court would otherwise have been imposed had a Community Service Order not been made. This ensures that offenders are aware of the default sentence which is likely to be imposed in the event of failure to comply with the terms of the Order.
Community Service assessments must be undertaken on all clients who are eligible to receive a custodial sentence – it is necessary to establish that the offender is a suitable person and is willing to perform work as ordered. The assessment procedure does not normally take the physical and mental health of the offender into consideration, save in exceptional circumstances. Offenders who are pregnant should also not be considered as unsuitable for the disposal on grounds of her condition.
Community Service is performed by offenders, either working on an individual basis, reporting directly to a beneficiary, or as part as a work party group supervised by JPACS staff. Offenders are assessed post sentence for working on an individualised placement and only when considered to be unsuitable for this are they allocated to a supervised work party.
Individual placements include placements at Charity shops, Durrell Zoo and Churches. There is also the work room, based at the JPAC offices, which allows offenders who may have health difficulties or other issues to be supervised whilst carrying out light duties.
The work parties carry out work for organisations such as the National Trust and the Jersey Football Association.
Placement beneficiaries will either be charitable or other non-profit making organisations.
Reporting requirements are stipulated by Community Service officers and may not be altered by the offender without prior agreement. The hours of working of individual placements vary to accommodate the operational requirements of the beneficiaries. Work party placements operate on Saturday and Sunday each week, with additional mid-week work parties subject to operational requirements. The hours of working and reporting times are fixed. Offenders are expected to report as instructed and perform an aggregate minimum of five hours work per week.
Offenders are required to independently verify any claim of absence due to ill- heath, work or other inescapable commitments. Evidence to support an absence is normally required in writing and offenders are permitted two working days in which to contact the Community Service team to explain the reason for the failure.
Offenders are normally warned in writing following their first unacceptable absence; following an second unacceptable absence they will be reviewed for suspension from the scheme, pending a discipline interview when they will receive a final warning regarding compliance; and for a third unacceptable absence offenders are reviewed for breach proceedings, when the case will be returned to Court.
Discipline levels are firm but consistent, and attendees are required to work to the satisfaction of the supervising officer.
Upon the breach being proved the Court may decide on the following sentence:
Revoke the Order
Continue with the Order, with or without variation to the number of hours to be performed and with or without the imposition of a fine.
The legislation surrounding Community Service Order’s also allows for a post sentence variation or revocation of the Order by the sentencing Court, where there has been a significant change in an offender’s circumstances. The Court, having regard to the circumstances which have arisen since the Order was imposed may vary or revoke the Order. The provision is available to both JPACS as well as the offender, although is subject to specific criteria. Breach (and review) proceedings are instigated following a review of each case by a manager with the criteria mirroring practice for Probation Orders.
Orders are discharged by the Chief Probation Officer upon satisfactory completion of the number of hours ordered by the Court.
A certificate of completion is issued to the offender.
For the Community Service Standards document please click here.