Community work

Community work offenders do unpaid work in the community to pay something back for the offence they have committed. It also gives offenders an opportunity to take responsibility for their offending and learn new skills and work habits.

Offenders can be required to do between 40 and 400 hours of community work. The number of hours will be determined by the judge in court. While offenders will be encouraged to complete their hours as quickly as possible, they can only work up to 10 hours a day, or up to 40 hours in any one week.

Offenders must complete at least 100 hours every six months, or the remaining balance of their sentence. While completing these hours, offenders will normally be able to continue with their regular jobs.

Types of community work

Community work could include:

  • cleaning beaches, community parks and bush tracks
  • assisting food banks, schools and marae
  • working with their local council and their beautification projects such as the removal of graffiti.

If an offender is sentenced to 80 or more hours of community work, the court can authorise the conversion of up to 20 percent of community work hours to be spent learning basic work and living skills.

How an offender is placed in community work

To determine what work the offender will do the probation officer will take into account:

  • the offence that the person has committed
  • their personal circumstances
  • their needs and skills.

Community work is either done in a work party supervised by community probation staff – called a centre placement, or it’s on an individual basis through placement at an agency.

Centre placements

Community probation staff are responsible for finding suitable work for our centre placements. Centre placements are made up of work parties that can have up to 8 offenders and can undertake a wide range of projects within the community.

They can also undertake projects sponsored by eligible community work agencies.

Community work centre rules

There are certain rules offenders have to follow when on a centre placement, like not bringing food, arriving on time and working hard.

Read about community work centre rules (PDF, 568Kb)

Agency placements

If the work is completed for an agency, it will be supervised by someone from that agency.

Probation officers check with the agency that the offender has completed the right number of hours and completed the work to the required standard.

Holding an offender to account

If an offender doesn’t follow the rules we call this non-compliance and treat it very seriously. It might mean an offender gets:

  • an internal sanction, for example a warning
  • a formal breach action which may result in a further conviction, another sentence, or imprisonment.
  • an application to the court to cancel the sentence and replace it with a more restrictive sentence.