A total of 355,404 hours of community service work were carried out around the country in 2018 according to the Probation Service annual report.
A Community Service Order of between 40-240 hours may be imposed by a judge as an alternative to a prison sentence of 12 months or less, for those aged over 16.
The community-based sanction requires convicted offenders to perform supervised work that gives back to the community. Any order made must be completed within a year.
There were 2,449 Community Service Orders made in 2018 – more than a 10% increase on the 2,215 made in 2017, and an 18% increase on the 2,067 orders in 2016.
The 2018 totals were in lieu of 1,054 years in prison. This equates to over €3-million worth of work for the benefit of communities nationwide.
The Probation Service, through the Department of Justice and Equality, also provided funding of €16.732 million in 2018 to a range of community-based organisations.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said: “All the criminal justice agencies share the goal of helping to create safer, fairer and more inclusive communities. The Probation Service continues to perform a unique and invaluable role in this through offender rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Vivian Geiran (Director of the Probation Service) said: “2018 was a productive year for the Probation Service. Inter-agency co-operation is a crucial component of our work.
“To be effective in reducing victimisation, we must continue this co-operative approach, while also strengthening the quality of the professional services we provide.”
The Probation Service, in conjunction with the Irish Prison Service, also accessed €300,000 funding through the Dormant Accounts Disbursement Scheme 2017-2019.