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Cambridge City Council

Community payback

Community payback is essentially the replacement for community service. Courts have the power to sentence people who have committed certain crimes to undertake between 40 and 300 hours of community payback rather than a prison sentence.

It's intended as a punishment and also as a means by which offenders can make amends to the community for the harm they have caused. Offenders wear orange jackets marked 'Community Payback', so local people can see they are paying back for their crimes.

All offenders have to meet certain criteria before they are assigned to specific tasks. In general, community payback is given to low and medium risk offenders. It's not suitable for high risk offenders.

All offenders are carefully assessed before they are allocated to work projects to ensure the safety of the public.


A project must meet the following criteria:

  • It must benefit the community
  • It must not take away paid work from others
  • No one must make a profit from the work
  • It must be worthwhile, constructive and give offenders new skills
  • Offenders must be seen to be putting something back into the community
  • It must be challenging and demanding for offenders
  • It must be visible, so the community can see offenders paying back their community
  • It must help to reduce crime and fear of crime

Typical types of project include graffiti removal, street clean ups, gardening and repair projects, improvements to park and community facilities and painting and decorating in community centres and meeting places.

Nominate a project

We have temporarily suspended this scheme. We hope to resume accepting nominations soon.