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Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

Breach of community orders: Sections 53, 54 and 55

35.The revised National Standards for the supervision of offenders in the community, which came into force on 1 April 2000, set the standards to which offenders are supervised in the community and the action that will be taken if they fail to comply with their sentence. The purpose of these measures is to enhance compliance with community sentences by creating a statutory warning to reinforce the new National Standards and by introducing a certain and consistent penalty for breach of an order. The new National Standards provide that offenders will be issued with a maximum of one warning for an unacceptable failure to comply with a community sentence in any 12 month period, rather than, as previously, two warnings. The Act would put this warning on a statutory basis. Where a further breach of the order occurs, the court will have to determine whether it considers it likely that the offender will comply with the requirements of the order if it remains in force. If not then, unless there are exceptional circumstances, it must impose a sentence of imprisonment. Otherwise the court must impose a further community penalty.

36.The Access to Justice Act 1999 gave the Crown Court the power (now consolidated in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000) to direct that any breach proceedings in respect of a community sentence imposed by the Crown Court should be heard in that court, on a summons issued by a justice. The Act provides the Crown Court with a power to issue a summons or a warrant where an offender fails to appear in answer to the original summons.

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