Community Service Orders (CSO) is a community-based sentencing option pursuant to the Community Service Orders Ordinance, Cap 378. A court may make an order requiring a person of or over 14 years of age and convicted of an offence(s) punishable with imprisonment to perform unpaid work for a number of hours not exceeding 240 hours within a period of 12 months under the supervision of a probation officer (PO) who shall also provide counselling and guidance to the offender.
CSO aims at being both reparative and rehabilitative. Under the order, an offender is required to use his leisure time to perform community service as reparation to the harm he has done to the community. Through community service and guidance of the PO, the offender is helped to reform himself. The main objectives of the CSO are as follows:
(a) Rehabilitation – Through structured work/service placement and the guidance of the PO, the offender placed under CSO is helped to observe regulations, to take up own responsibility for self progress, to broaden perspective, to develop an enriched sense of self-worth, to cultivate a more constructive pattern of living and to steer him/her from further crime commitment.
(b) Constructive disposal – CSO allows an offender placed under CSO to continue living in the community with least disruption to his/her schooling/employment/religious activities.
(c) Reparation – It provides an opportunity for the offender placed under CSO to contribute through performing unpaid works of benefit to the community to which he/she has caused damage.