When a court imposes a custodial sentence of between 14 days and two years (or six months in the magistrates’ court), the court may choose to suspend the sentence for up to two years. This means that the offender does not go to prison immediately, but is given the chance to stay out of trouble and to comply with up to 12 requirements set by the court.
- doing unpaid work;
- being subject to a curfew;
- undertaking a treatment programme for alcohol or drugs;
- being subject to a rehabilitation activity requirement.
If the offender does not comply with the requirements or is convicted of another offence during the suspension period, they are likely to serve the original custodial term in addition to the sentence they get for the new offence.
In 2016, 56,317 offenders had a suspended sentence order imposed, representing five per cent of offenders sentenced.
These statistics are taken from the Ministry of Justice’s criminal justice statistics publications.