Community service is a general punishment included in the Criminal Code of Finland and may be passed on certain preconditions instead of an unconditional imprisonment not exceeding eight months. Depending on the length of the imprisonment, community service varies from 14 to 240 hours. Community service can also be imposed as a supplementary sanction to a conditional imprisonment exceeding 8 months in which case the maximum length is 90 hours. Community service is unpaid work carried out under supervision.
The Criminal Sanctions Agency assesses the person’s suitability for community service before the sentence is passed and it acquires a service place and supervises the performance of the service.
Community service can be sentenced if:
- the sentence for the offence is less than eight months of imprisonment;
- the accused consents to community service;
- the accused is assumed to be capable of carrying out the service.
Previous community service sentences or unconditional prison sentences may prevent the passing of a new community service.
At the request of the prosecutor, the Criminal Sanctions Agency prepares a pre-sentence report on the capacity of the accused to carry out community service. The service is non-profit work carried out according to a sentence plan. Breaching the plan conditions will lead to a sanction.
In the past few years, approximately 35% of unconditional prison sentences not exceeding eight months have been converted into community service. The annual number of enforced community service sentences is around 3600-3700 of which more than 80% are completed. The most common offence resulting in community service is aggravated drunken driving; it is the principal offence of over half of all the offenders sentenced to community service.