Executive summary: The community correction order (CCO) was introduced as a sentencing option in Victoria in January 2012. The purpose of a CCO is to provide a non-custodial sentencing option that is more flexible than the orders it replaced, in particular the community-based order (CBO), the intensive correction order (ICO), and the combined custody and treatment order (CCTO). Relative to the orders that have been replaced, CCOs can be imposed for longer maximum durations in the higher courts and all courts can order a higher maximum number of hours for unpaid community work. This allows the courts to use CCOs for a wider range of offending behaviours. Also, a greater range of conditions can be attached to a CCO than to the orders it replaced. This provides the courts with increased capacity to address the specific circumstances of the offender.
The new order was introduced at a time when another sentencing option, the suspended sentence of imprisonment, was being phased out. CCOs are also intended to be a replacement for suspended sentences in cases where the court considers immediate custody unnecessary to fulfil the purposes for which the sentence is imposed.
In light of these sentencing reforms, this report examines three questions:
1. How have sentencers used CCOs and what are the characteristics of offenders who receive them?
2. Have CCOs only replaced CBOs and ICOs in sentencing practice?
3. To what extent, if any, have CCOs replaced suspended sentences of imprisonment in sentencing practice?
The questions have been addressed in relation to the Magistrates’ Court and the higher courts (the County and Supreme Courts) through analyses of relevant sentencing data.