The Community Service Order (‘CSO’) was introduced to Ireland in 1983 as an alternative to custody to address concerns relating to prison overcrowding and rising crime rates. Evidence shows that Community Service results in lower reoffending rates and more positive outcomes for those who have offended and their community, when compared with short-term prison sentences. Notwithstanding these findings, the CSO remains underutilised.

An Evidence Review of Community Service Policy, Practice and Structure by Dr Louise Kennefick (University of Glasgow) and Dr Eoin Guilfoyle (Brunel University London), was commissioned as part of the Probation Service’s strategy to maximise the potential benefit of Community Service in the Irish criminal justice system, and to reform and revitalise the current operating model.

The evidence in the review is overwhelmingly supportive of approaches to Community Service in the criminal justice system that aim to advance the principles of desistance, restorative justice and social justice.

The recommendations from An Evidence Review of Community Service Policy will inform policy and practice developments, support the advancement of innovative approaches and initiatives, enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of community service and strengthen the evidence base for stakeholders.

The Evidence Review of Community Service Policy, Practice and Structure is available to read and download here.


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