All offenders who receive a custodial sentence shorter than two years are subject to post-sentence supervision on release. It enforces a supervision period to help with the offender’s rehabilitation after they leave prison. The length of post-sentence supervision depends on the length of the original custodial sentence.

There are eight standard supervision requirements that offenders could be subject to:

  1. good behaviour
  2. lawful behaviour
  3. to keep in touch with the supervising officer
  4. to receive visits from the supervising officer
  5. to reside permanently in an approved address
  6. to only undertake approved work
  7. to remain in the UK
  8. to participate in any programmes or activities as agreed with probation and/or the supervising officer

The offender may also have to take drug tests or attend drug rehabilitation appointments.

Failure to comply with any of the requirements would count as a breach and may result in the offender being brought to court to be dealt with for that breach.

What is the penalty for breaching post-sentence supervision?

The penalty for breaching post-sentence supervision depends on how far the offender has – or has not – complied with the order.

There are four levels of compliance ranging from high compliance to wilful and persistent non-compliance. The level of compliance takes into account:

  • the offender’s overall attitude and engagement with the order as well as the proportion of elements they have completed
  • the impact of completed or partially completed requirements on the offender’s behaviour
  • the length of time between the order and the breach
  • any relevant personal circumstances

The maximum penalty for failing to meet a supervision requirement is 14 days’ custody.

The minimum penalty for a breach where compliance was otherwise high is a band A fine.

Find out more about how penalties for breaching post-sentence supervision are worked out in the sentencing guideline and the different types of sentence the courts can impose.

Useful information


Do criminals get out of prison early without serving their full sentence?
A jail sentence means more than just time in prison. If an offender is sent to prison, the judge will decide how long he should spend in custody, but time in prison is just one part of the sentence. Offenders always complete their full sentence but usually half the time is spent in prison and the rest is spent on licence. While on licence, an offender can be sent back to prison if they break its terms.

The system of serving half a sentence in prison and half on licence was introduced by Parliament, and is not something that judges or magistrates have any control over.

Read more sentencing myths and find out the facts.

The information on this page is not a complete legal analysis of the offences and is not a substitute for legal advice. The law will be different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.