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Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences (CASPS)

What is the Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences Scheme?

Northumbria Local Criminal Justice Board and Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner have launched a pilot scheme to provide community alternatives to short prison sentences. Such alternatives would usually be cheaper than a period of imprisonment and would aim to focus much more on rehabilitation, rather than retribution.

How does the Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences Scheme work?

The scheme will target those offenders who would otherwise have received a short prison sentence, and replaces the sentence with a more robust Community Order package.

Whilst Community Orders are nothing new, the scheme will provide the offender with additional support through a ‘Community Navigator’, who will intervene at times and support with things such as; skills development, improving family relationships, employment, community ties, as well as increasing their confidence and self-esteem.

Who is eligible for the Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences Scheme?

Firstly, the scheme will only be available to people who appear in Newcastle and Tynedale Magistrates Court, or South Tyneside Magistrates Court. They also need to reside in;

  • Northumberland
  • North Tyneside
  • Newcastle
  • Sunderland
  • South Tyneside
  • Gateshead.

The probation service must also complete a pre-sentence report, which will determine whether an offender is suitable for the scheme.

The scheme is not available to offenders convicted of a sexual offence or crimes involving domestic abuse.

Contact Us

If you are charged with an offence and would like to know whether the CASPS scheme would be available for you, please contact our crime department on 0191 232 9547, where one of our specialist team will be happy to discuss this with you.

Update: 21 June 2022

Our crime paralegal Hannah shares further perspective on this scheme:

‘CASPS’ Pilot Scheme

A ray of hope for those who may find themselves at risk of a custodial sentence has been introduced by the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit in partnership with the North East Probation Service.

A ‘Community Alternative to Short Prison Sentences’, also known as CASPS, is being piloted in our local area. With a stronger emphasis on trying to address the root cause of someone’s offending behaviour, the idea is that Probation will work intensively with the offender on a Community Order instead of sending them to prison for a short period of time.

The scheme is currently only available to those who reside in Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside or Gateshead and have their cases heard at either Newcastle or South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

You will not be eligible for the scheme if your case involves domestic abuse or sexual offending.

The usual position with a Community Order is that the Court will impose conditions which you must abide by, such as unpaid work, a curfew or the imposition of an exclusion zone. You will be supervised by a Probation Officer during the period of your Community Order but if you breach the Order or any of the conditions, you will be in breach and brought back before the Court who are then obliged to increase the level of sentence, which could even include custody.

With the addition of CASPS, ‘Probation Practitioners’ and ‘Community Navigators’ will work more intensively with people subject to such an Order.

The Community Navigator will work with you for a minimum period of 6 months. The Community Navigator’s role will be as a mentor, providing practical support and assistance. This may include referrals to services they think could be of assistance to you.

The Probation Practitioner will remain responsible for monitoring your compliance and enforcing the conditions of the Community Order. The aim of this approach is to assist you in successfully carrying out the conditions of your Community Order, all whilst working to improve your confidence and self-esteem and develop skills to improve family relationships, employment and community ties.

The Probation Service will consider whether you are suitable for CASPS in a Pre-Sentence Report, which will be given to the Judge prior to sentence.


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