1. The corporate structure of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) allows consideration of training and learning and development at the highest level. Corporate leadership for the training and development functions of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service sits with the Director of Human Resources ( HR) who sits on the Management Board, the Area Fiscals' Group, the Area Business Managers' Group and the Corporate Issues Sub Group. In such a position the Director of HR is well placed to obtain a strategic view of the training and development needs of the staff in the Service. This is cascaded to the Head of Learning and Development who further cascades the training and development requirements of the service to two managers (one managing the team of legal trainers and the other managing the team of non legal trainers designed as 'learning and development consultants') within Learning and Development Division.
2. There is a clear corporate commitment to learning and development of its staff in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategic Plan, in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service People Strategy and in the Learning and Development Strategy. We found that staff felt that this commitment was being put into practice to a great extent. However there were some reports of a lack of management support for staff in terms of abstraction for training, time to participate in pre-course learning or e-learning and in some cases, lack of encouragement to put learning to use in the workplace after the delivery of training.
3. We acknowledge the reality of competing priorities in the workplace and the difficulty in giving the time and support to training that it requires. Much depends on local managers. However, it is encouraging to note the provision of additional resources for managers by way of the new managers' toolkit available online as well as the ongoing development of training and other learning opportunities such as coaching and mentoring for managers and leaders in the organisation. By ensuring that managers are well trained and supported, particularly in relation to people management, the corporate commitment to the training and development of staff is more likely to be realised.
4. A Learning and Development Strategy was published in 2009 and this acknowledges the importance of alignment of learning and development activities with the organisational aims.
5. In seeking to ensure that Learning and Development Division is and remains aligned with the business needs and strategic aims of the organisation it relies on its links with stakeholders. There are various ways in which stakeholder input is sought, for example through course sponsors, through the Learning and Development Steering Group and through Area liaison. Although these various methods exist we found that each requires some strengthening to ensure effectiveness. The designation of senior figures such as portfolio owners as sponsors of training for their topic or area of work and the resulting partnership between them and trainers should ensure that training remains aligned to the business needs of the organisation. We encourage the extension of this scheme to all aspects of training in Learning and Development Division.
6. In seeking to determine the training requirements and learning and development needs of the organisation, Learning and Development rely on input from a variety of sources. Aside from the matters identified at senior level such as the training implications of new legislation or a new IT system, the means devised by which learning needs are identified include individual personal development plans. These are at present under-used with few Areas submitting these to Learning and Development. Indeed even where these are submitted Learning and Development presently do not use them to inform future planning. We also considered that more effective evaluation of training events (of which more later) and results from self assessment audits carried out by Areas might provide additional sources of information to identify training needs.
7. In all 11 geographical Areas training needs of staff are considered and addressed in a variety of ways by teams or groups charged with such activity in these areas. There is some liaison with Areas by representatives of Learning and Development but arrangements are still fairly new and need time to bed in to become more effective in relation to identifying learning needs.
8. We have no evidence to suggest that courses delivered at the Scottish Prosecution College are other than of a high standard. However processes in relation to the design, quality assurance checking and evaluation of courses appear to differ between the trainers. Essential steps in the process such as carrying out an equality impact assessment could not be evidenced. A more consistent approach is recommended with the revision and use of the existing Standards Manual.
9. The range of courses and e-learning packages now available from Learning and Development is greater than at any time in the past and the prospectus continues to expand to provide a greater choice of training courses and other learning options for staff. Systematic review is recommended to ensure currency of guidance and relevance. We hope that a clearer view of training options will be available for all staff in light of the work presently being carried out in relation to mapping of roles to training.
10. Induction has been strengthened in line with the 2002 Management Review recommendations with a corporate DVD and local induction arrangements as well as a mandatory diversity course for all staff within two months, although monitoring of uptake of this course reveals some slippage with that timeframe. For legal staff the current induction process involves a combination of training course attendance alongside operational practice which culminates in certification.
11. In relation to the mandatory course elements of induction, whether for legal or other staff we recommend a change to arrangements so that courses are allocated by Learning and Development rather than by application by the new member of staff. This should ensure that uptake is timely.
12. Although there are courses on the prospectus providing staff with training in relation to dealing with victims, next of kin and domestic abuse cases in line with the commitment in the Strategic Plan, such courses are not mandatory and rely on application from staff. In addition in relation to the courses on deaths we found that despite a recommendation from the Policy lead on deaths at the time that the courses be mandatory for those involved in this work they remain voluntarily rather than mandatory. We recommend that consideration of these matters be included in the current mapping work.
13. Our inspection concluded as Sheriff Principal Bowen's Independent Review of Sheriff and Jury Procedure was published. Although there was praise for the training course observed (Advocacy 2) suggestions were made about how the learning could be consolidated by observation of Advocates Depute or senior colleagues in court and a mentoring system. We support such suggestions and observe also that gaps identified in one Area regarding procedural aspects of Sheriff and Jury court work might also be considered in any review of the course materials.
14. Administrative processes appeared to be adequate if in need of improved efficiency, a subject likely to be addressed by procurement of additional IT functionality. There are issues surrounding withdrawals and cancellations which are being monitored and we believe that this can be aided by formally reviewing the training prospectus on a more regular basis.
15. In accordance with the recommendation in the 2002 Management Review there has been an increased investment into the learning and development function with the opening of the Scottish Prosecution College in 2007. There is good control over budget processes and monitoring of expenditure. Staff are aware of the need to obtain value for money particularly in the current financial climate.
16. The facilities at the College are considered to be very good; however, space in the office area was an issue for everyone with whom we consulted. The doors at the entrance of the building may be difficult to open for people with mobility problems and we recommend that these issues are discussed with Estates Division. We noted that regular testing and checks are carried out in relation to health and safety, business continuity and security.
17. We acknowledge that the location of the College can present problems for some given the geographical spread of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and that Learning and Development Division are taking steps to address this such as increased e-learning, facilitating courses in local offices, etc.
18. Among those we consulted in Learning and Development we found agreement the Division provided a good working experience. We found a professional approach to training from all the staff in Learning and Development and, on the whole, a well motivated workforce. The legal trainers' and learning and development consultants' teams appeared to work quite separately and in some ways this is understandable. We thought that there was scope for better collaboration and communication to improve mutual understanding.
19. Recruitment of legal trainers latterly had proved more difficult and the legal team were short staffed during our inspection. Differences in approach to training legal and non legal staff were evident although moves were being put in place to provide greater uniformity. The trainers themselves were clear that it was of paramount importance that they should be viewed as professional in approach and have credibility with their peers. To this end, suggestions that legal trainers continue to contribute in some small way to operational work to maintain that credibility had some merit in our view.
20. Partnership working with internal stakeholders and external partners are essential to any Learning and Development function. In line with current Learning and Development professional thinking there has been a shift away from the view of the Learning and Development function as service provider to one where Learning and Development works in partnership with stakeholders to facilitate learning through a variety of approaches (including the traditional training courses). Inherent in that approach is that Learning and Development brings training and learning opportunities out to the workforce. Where previously all training by Learning and Development was delivered at the centrally based Scottish Prosecution College (Glasgow) there are increasing moves to have trainers go out to Areas (and Crown Office Divisions) to bring the training to the workplace. This seems to be welcomed by Area Managers, particularly in areas geographically distant from Glasgow where abstraction can be expensive in terms of time and travel costs.
21. Area liaison responsibilities are allocated to trainers with each Area being served by both a legal trainer and a Learning and Development consultant, with varied uptake reported. We have suggested some minor adjustments to these arrangements for practical purposes but otherwise see it as a positive move which may still need some time to bed in.
22. We noted different approaches to local training initiatives in Areas and thought that there was some scope for better arrangements to share training materials and resources used locally with the wider Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service community. Such local training events often highlighted gaps in central training provision or the need for refresher training on some of the topics already covered centrally by Learning and Development Division.
23. External partnerships, particularly with Scottish Government and criminal justice partners appears to benefit the organisation and raise the profile of the Service and positive feedback is reported from those attending Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service training events. Partnership with the police is also apparent, no more so than with the secondment of a senior Depute to the police training college at Tulliallan.
24. The responses to our own questionnaire sets have been, for the most part, extremely positive and a similar response was recorded in relation to the Civil Service Staff survey in relation to learning and development opportunities providing some evidence of positive 'people' results. For Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as an organisation it is more difficult to be certain about the effectiveness of training and learning and development activities.
25. Evaluation of courses is measured in terms of instant reaction and understanding only. Whilst of interest to trainers it provides little meaningful feedback to managers on the effectiveness of the training and whether learning has occurred. For evidence of learning in the wake of training it is necessary to obtain data and feedback from a variety of sources after a period of time when ideally learning from training has been consolidated by practice at the workplace.
26. Much has been written by scholars about how best to evaluate training and it is widely accepted that evaluation can be notoriously difficult to carry out. Further it is acknowledged that it can be time and resource intensive and for this reason is not always carried out at a higher level. However in these pressing financial times Learning and Development Division will be pressed increasingly to provide some evidence of its value to the Service. Results of evaluation or return on investment are likely to be sought. At present Learning and Development Division is not in a position to provide such evidence and despite a new evaluation strategy acknowledging the importance of such evaluation the current basic 'reaction' sheet remains the main tool employed.
27. Overall, the provision of training in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has benefited from increased investment in recent years. The existence of a modern and well equipped Scottish Prosecution College has provided a wider and more accessible range of courses and other learning options than ever. It is not surprising, therefore, that we found members of staff in the Service are generally positive about the additional value and opportunities provided by Learning and Development Division.
28. There is firm leadership and strategic vision although it is less clear that training provision is fully aligned with business needs and strategic commitments to training. Although training is generally well received and understood by delegates at the time of delivery there is an absence of follow up to confirm its effectiveness at the workplace.
29. The following recommendations are supportive of and are intended to build on existing strengths.