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Tuesday, 28 September 2010


If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you are likely to be placed on probation for a period of time. This is a trial period when your ability to live within the law is tested. What you do, and how you behave, during this period will decide whether or not you are fully released from your sentence.

Who is put on probation

Convicted criminals are likely to be put on probation (which is legally known as being put 'under the supervision of probation') when:

  • a judge or magistrate gives them a community sentence
  • the Parole Board decides that they can be released early from their jail sentence

How probation works

The National Probation Service is divided into 42 regional probation areas in England and Wales. Each regional office is responsible for the people who are on probation in their area.

If you are placed on probation, you must not break the rules and requirements of your community sentence or your ‘release licence’ (the terms under which you were released) from prison. If you break those rules, you could be sent to prison.

While on probation, you must attend regular meetings with your probation officers. You get only one warning if you fail to show up. If you miss another meeting after that, you will be sent back to court, and can receive more punishment.

You may also be ordered to abide by other rules including:

  • completing alcohol and drug treatment
  • living in a probation hostel
  • staying away from the area where you committed the crime
  • obeying a curfew
  • wearing an electronic tag

Probation hostels

While on probation, depending upon the conditions of your parole, the judge may require you to live in a probation hostel, known as 'approved premises’. 

Hostels have a high level of supervision and security, and are usually equipped with CCTV and alarm systems.

If you are ordered to live there, you must obey the hostel's curfew and strict rules. The rules are designed to keep you away from the people, places and activities that led you to commit crime.

What probation officers do

Probation officers work with people serving time on probation and their families to reduce the chance that they might commit more crimes.

If you’re placed on probation, your probation officer will:

  • monitor your activities
  • help you deal with problems such as drug and alcohol addiction
  • let the court know of any problems they see in your behaviour

They can also require you to get help for emotional problems, such as anger management.

Community Payback

Probationers are often required to complete unpaid work in the community as part of the terms of their sentence. This programme of work is known as Community Payback, and local residents can suggest projects in their area for offenders to do.

The work could be anything from cleaning graffiti to clearing overgrown public land.

Find out more about Community Payback by following the link below.

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