Community sanctions for young offenders

What is a community sanction for a young offender?

When a child is convicted of a crime, detention is considered as a last resort. The courts will consider alternatives to detention.

The Children Act 2001 provides for a range of community sanctions that can be imposed by a court. The court must consider that a community sanction is the most suitable way of dealing with the case.

These sanctions allow a child to remain in the community and stay at school. The Young Persons Probation division of the Probation Service oversees the implementation of most of the community sanctions.

If a child does not comply with a community sanction the case is returned to the court.

What happens when the child turns 18?

Most community sanction orders expire 6 months after the child has reached 18 years of age, if they have not already expired.

When is a community sanction ordered?

The child may be ordered to complete a community sanction if the court thinks it’s the most suitable way of dealing with the case.

Before making this decision, the court will consider:

  • The probation officer’s report
  • Evidence of any person the court may have requested
  • Evidence of a child’s parent, guardian or adult relative if they are present in the court for proceedings

If the court decides to impose a community sanction, the judge will explain in a way the child understands:

  • The reason the court is imposing a community sanction
  • The terms and any conditions of a sanction
  • Expectation of good conduct by the child
  • What happens if the child does not comply
  • The child’s parent or guardian will help the child comply with the sanction

If the child does not agree to comply with the sanction, the court can deal with the case in another way.

If a child does not comply with a community sanction or the court revokes or withdraws the sanction, the court will only order detention if it considers it the only suitable way of dealing with the child.

Types of Community sanctions

There are 10 community sanctions available to the courts.

1. Community service order

The child aged 16 or 17 must complete a set number of hours of unpaid work if the court gives them a community service order. The number of hours can range from between 40 and 240 hours.

2. Day centre order

The child must attend a day centre and participate in a programme of activities if given a day centre order. They must attend the centre for up to 90 days. The days do not need to be consecutive, but attendance cannot exceed a period of 6 months.

Generally, the programme is available in the evenings and on weekends so as not to interfere with school, training or employment.

3. Probation order

A probation order places a child under the supervision of the Probation Service for a period of time. During the period the child must meet certain conditions set by the court. Standard conditions include:

  • To be of good behaviour
  • To follow the instructions of the supervising probation officer

In addition to a standard probation order, there are different types of probation order set out in the Children Act 2001 specifically for children.

4. Probation (training or activities programme) order

The child must complete a programme of training or activity recommended by a probation officer if the court gives them a probation (training or activities programme) order. The programme may be managed by the Probation Service or some other body.

5. Probation (intensive supervision) order

A child is placed under the close supervision of a probation officer under an intensive supervision order. During the order, the child must live at a specified residence and attend a specified programme of education, training or treatment. The order must be less than 180 days. If the order is over 90 days, the court must review it after 60 days.

The education or training programme may be managed by the Probation Service or some other body.

6. Probation (residential supervision) order

A court can order that a child lives in a hostel under a residential supervision order. Generally, the hostel chosen would be reasonably close to where the child usually lives or to where they go to school, work or attend training.

However, if a court believes that the child may benefit from a period in a hostel away from their usual residence, the court can approve this.

The residential supervision order must be less than 1 year. A child, their parent or guardian, or a probation and welfare officer can apply to the court to change the order if there is a relevant change in circumstances.

7. Suitable person (care and supervision) order

Under a suitable person order the court places a child into the care of a suitable adult, other than the child’s parents or guardians.

The suitable person can be a relative but doesn’t have to be. The suitable person takes on the role of the child’s parent or guardian.

The child’s parents must give their consent in writing before a suitable person order can be made. This order must be for less than 2 years. The child also remains under the supervision of a probation officer for the duration of the order.

8. Mentor (family support) order

A court can assign a mentor to support the child and their family to try to prevent the child from committing further offences. The mentor also monitors the child’s behaviour generally.

The child must live at their usual residence with their parent or guardian.

The child and their parents must consent to the order and the period of the order cannot exceed 2 years. The probation officer continues to supervise the child for the duration of the order. The probation and welfare officer also assist the mentor in supporting the child and family to prevent the child committing further offences.

9. Restriction on movement order

A restriction on movement order is a curfew order policed by the Gardaí who have the power to arrest a child if they don’t comply with the order.

Under a restriction of movement order, the child must be at a certain address, normally their home address, at specified times between 7pm and 6am (a curfew). In addition, they may have to stay away from a specified area or location at specified times.

A restriction on movement order can last up to 6 months.

A stay away order can last for up to 12 months.

10. Dual order

A dual order combines a restriction of movement order with a:

  • Day centre order, or
  • Probation order.

The child’s movements are restricted for up to 6 months. At the same time, the child:

  • Must attend a day centre for a maximum of 90 days, or
  • Must be supervised by a probation officer.

Probation Service

Probation Service

Dublin 7
D07 WT27

Tel: +353 (0)1 817 3600
Fax: +353 (0)1 872 2737
Page edited: 28 May 2024