Chapter 12 – Training
"There is a clear need to address problems of lack of mutual awareness and understanding of others' work and of 'organisational empathy' on the part of staff within the Criminal Justice system agencies."
Proposals for the Integration of Aims, Objectives and Targets in the Criminal Justice System - Andrew Normand 2002
The Normand Report recognised the criminal justice system as being the sum of the constituent parts of the different organisations. It is understood that greater mutual understanding of each other's aims and objectives could increase the overall effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System. As co-operation is a key principle in terms of shared understanding, joint working between the criminal justice agencies was seen as the way ahead. Joint training was viewed as an essential element in support of this aim and the ACPOS/ COPFS Working Group recommended that:
- ACPOS and COPFS should consider the formation of a Joint Standing Group to identify training needs in respect of issues of joint relevance to both organisations and to develop an appropriate implementation strategy - [ ACPOS/ COPFS - Rec. 32]
- Area Fiscals and Chief Constables should constitute local Working Groups to ensure delivery of joint training needs at local level and to provide input into the national strategy - [ ACPOS/ COPFS - Rec. 33]
12.1 Joint Training
The inspection team found that no ACPOS/ COPFS Joint Standing Group to identify training needs around issues of joint relevance had been implemented. The inspection team acknowledges that some progress has been made in relation to joint training between police and COPFS. However this has proceeded on an "ad hoc" basis, with little consistency and no national co-ordination.
The inspection team also acknowledges the secondment of a Procurator Fiscal Depute to the Scottish Police College. Beginning in March 2005 as a one year secondment, there is scope for this to be formalised into a permanent post. Over the course of the year, the role has developed significantly and the inspection team acknowledges the valuable contribution that has been made across many areas of national police training. In addition to core training for probationary constables, a range of inputs have been delivered in terms of crime management, detective training, roads policing, leadership and management, and civil emergency and major incident training. The Procurator Fiscal Depute facilitates inputs from COPFS staff in specialist areas of investigation, and arrangements have been made for COPFS staff to observe training courses run at the college. Additionally, Scottish Police College staff have recently attended a training course run by COPFS, on vulnerable witnesses.
A range of training has taken place between police and Procurators Fiscal at a local level. But this largely consists of either police or COPFS providing an input to each other, as opposed to a joint training delivery. Much of the training has been in relation to non-case management issues, and there is little evidence of evaluation having taken place. The majority of joint training in case management has been facilitated through co-located officers. Although this is commendable and offers scope for future development, a more structured co-ordinated approach could produce greater benefits.
The inspection team has established that local joint training initiatives between the police and Procurators Fiscal do exist, though at varying stages of progress. There appears to be genuine commitment from both agencies to develop this further, and anecdotal evidence from the inspection suggests an appreciation that much can be achieved from greater understanding of partner needs. The infrastructure for greater co-ordination appears to be in place by virtue of the National and local criminal justice boards. This should develop a greater awareness of training needs, through information sharing amongst the criminal justice agencies, and ensure that joint training becomes more focused and co-ordinated.
12.2 Training in Reports and Statements
All probationary constables receive training in report writing and statements during initial training at the Scottish Police College. And, as earlier intimated, this includes inputs from the seconded Procurator Fiscal Depute. This training provides the foundation for a courtroom practical exercise led by the Procurator Fiscal Depute, involving defence agents and retired Procurators Fiscal. During the second year of their probationary training, students return to the Scottish Police College. At this stage, tutorials are provided on the practical aspects of report writing, to ensure that students are aware of issues surrounding accuracy, sufficiency of evidence, mitigating circumstances and the grounds on which a report may be marked "no proceedings".
The training provided at the Scottish Police College is complemented to varying degrees at force level. A number of forces have central and/or local training departments, which develop the skills of probationary constables. Prior to commencing operational patrol, probationary constables attend local training courses to learn local procedures. A proportion of this training aims to provide a local slant on producing and transmitting police reports, with a range of support documentation and guidance notes to supplement the training. At street level, probationary constables are supported by tutors and supervisors on the practical aspects of completing reports.
Central Scotland Police currently operates a Tutor Unit, where probationary constables spend the first ten weeks after completing their initial training at the Scottish Police College. Each student spends eight weeks within the unit and two weeks with a Community Police Officer. This ensures that every probationer gets a consistent cross-section of experience and dedicated Tutors can ensure that core competencies needed for completing Standard Prosecution Reports and statements are addressed. HMIC and IPS recognise that this provides a useful focus on the practical needs of the probationer; although the unit uses abbreviated reports for some offences, probationers complete full Standard Prosecution Reports for training purposes in every case.
Whilst the inspection was able to confirm the adequacy of training for police reports, the same cannot be said in respect of training for statements. This is an important issue, particularly in light of the Holland and Sinclair provisions. Some Procurators Fiscal raised concerns regarding statement quality, with specific references being made to the new National Statement Standard format and information being included in the wrong field. Only two forces were able to demonstrate local training for operational officers in relation to statements. While a review of probationer training by another force had recently highlighted a training need around statement quality. In Central Scotland Police, an experienced Detective Sergeant provides local training in taking statements to both probationary constables and other officers where a training need has been identified. The absence of training in statement taking in the majority of forces suggests that this is an area that ACPOS and COPFS need to revisit.
Recommendation 14 - that ACPOS and COPFS, as part of the review of the Joint Protocols, establish a joint working group to develop a strategy for training on criminal justice issues, including Standard Police Reports and statement taking.