This article considers the development and use of unpaid work as a penal sanction in Scotland, including its gradual introduction at differing points of the criminal justice process. It is argued that the community service order in Scotland – intended to serve as an alternative to imprisonment - has become a well-established sentencing option, though other penalties involving unpaid work have met with more conditional support. Community service has broadly resisted political pressures aimed at increasing its profile and punitiveness though there is a risk that contemporary policy developments that are aimed, ironically, at decreasing the Scottish prison population may, instead, result in its diversionary capacity being undermined.
Keywords: Community service, Scotland, Alternatives to custody, Penal policy
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