Chapter 2 – Policy and Strategy
63. In this chapter we examine the content of the Learning and Development Strategy, whether it is clearly communicated and, by reference to this and later chapters in this report, the extent to which it has been implemented thus far.
64. Learning and Development Strategy was developed by the Director of HR and the Head of Learning and Development Division and approved by the Corporate Issues Sub Group in February 2009. The strategy was published in the spring of 2009 and advertised on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service intranet, in Update 4 and in the May 2009 edition of the Bulletin 5. During our inspection we found that of those surveyed there was an overall awareness of it or where to access it throughout the service. It can also be found on the Learning and Development home page on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service intranet - called IDEAL.
65. According to the introduction it "sets out the vision for learning and the framework for ensuring delivery of high quality service to the public by developing new skills and competences and improving performance and job satisfaction". Its stated aim is to continue to meet the business needs to ensure that "..learning interventions are developed, costed and evaluated to a consistently higher standard…"
Here we examine some of the main points of the strategy.
66. The stated aspiration in the strategy is to continue to provide quality learning to meet business needs - by engaging with sponsors of change at the outset. It states that by having a course sponsor this should encourage appropriate professional support as well as robust identification of skills gaps.
67. Our inspection found that some but by no means all of the legal courses on the curriculum had designated course sponsors. None of the admin courses had a course sponsor as far as the training consultants were aware. Of those legal courses which had a sponsor there was a difference in approach with some sponsors playing an active role with the legal trainer in the design, development and review of course materials whilst others were less involved. We found evidence of engaging with sponsors of change in our sample course inspection in relation to the new course on the Sexual Offences Act 2009 6.
Recommendation - That Learning and Development engages with internal stakeholders to ensure that each course has a designated and agreed course sponsor with whom any review should be conducted.
Links with Corporate Strategy
68. Our examination of the curriculum of courses and e-learning packages available showed that there were courses available which cover topics under the five main objectives of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategic Plan 2009-2012:
69. Objective 1 - Serious crime. This is covered by a range of courses including Effective Management of Serious and Complex Cases; Effective Management of Sheriff and Jury cases; Child Precognition; Precognition; Witness Interviewing, Disclosure, Sexual Offences and Advocacy.
70. Objective 2 - Community and police engagement to tackle persistent offending, crime and disorder. A range of course materials touch on aspects of this strategic priority. For example the basic legal module course on case marking covers tackling persistent offenders by rolling up a number of reports into one prosecution case. This is backed up by training on the IT system to achieve this result. In terms of training and learning and development opportunities, 'community engagement' might be best developed at local level by Areas inviting their local criminal justice partners and stakeholders to participate.
71. Objective 3 - Investigation of deaths. There are two courses available covering investigation of deaths. The first is a basic course covering receipt of death reports and instruction to make further enquiries. The second is a more advanced course covering further aspects of investigation and preparation for a Fatal Accident Inquiry as well as dealing with bereaved relatives 7.
72. Objective 4 - Providing a service to victims, witnesses and next of kin. This is covered in a number of courses such as deaths, diversity, vulnerable witnesses and domestic abuse courses. Ongoing work to examine how every course on the prospectus meets this objective has recently been instructed by the victims' portfolio owner.
73. Objective 5 - Respect and promote diversity. There is a mandatory two day diversity course which should be taken by staff within two months of entry to the Service as part of their induction process. Additionally a refresher e-learning package has been developed and it is now recommended that staff undertake this learning on an annual basis.
74. In the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategic Plan 2009-2012 a number of references are made to provision of training for staff.
75. In particular -
- The introduction of specialist training for all staff involved in investigation of rape and sexual offence cases. Mandatory training for all those involved in cases involving sexual offences was introduced following the review of sexual offences in 2007. The accreditation requirement ensures compliance.
- A commitment to providing detailed guidance and training for all staff dealing with victims, witnesses and bereaved relatives. In 2002/03, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service introduced a dedicated Victim Information and Advice Division ( VIA). VIA Officers are tasked with providing information and assistance to victims in certain categories of cases reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Whilst VIA staff are expected to attend courses on 'vulnerable witness' and 'sexual offences', attendance on deaths courses and the domestic abuse course is optional. VIA staff are not the only members of staff to have contact with victims and witnesses. Precognosers and legal staff regularly come into contact with victims at court or in an office setting.
- Similarly, whilst one of the deaths courses has a section dealing with bereaved relatives, many members of staff who are not dealing with deaths exclusively (for example in High Court units - lawyers and precognosers dealing with relatives of murder victims) may not consider accessing such training. There are gaps in what is offered and the groups at whom training is targeted and these should be considered and addressed.
- A commitment that all prosecutors will be trained to deal with the specialist nature of domestic abuse cases effectively. Whilst a Domestic Abuse course is available on the prospectus this is not mandatory for prosecutors dealing with these cases. It was suggested to us that in the ongoing work on mapping competences the completion of such training as domestic abuse training might encourage more uptake. However, if the department sets out a clear undertaking that all prosecutors will be trained in this topic then it would appear that the only way to ensure that this is the case is to make it a mandatory course for relevant staff and to monitor attendance.
- Diversity awareness programme - In Chapter 5 we look at induction in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which now involves mandatory attendance at a two day diversity course.
- Mention of trainees receiving 'unrivalled support and training'. This is also discussed further in Chapter 5 in relation to legal induction.
- Scottish Prosecution College providing more e-learning opportunities to staff given the geographical dispersion. This is further discussed in Chapter 5 and the full range of e-learning courses available is listed in Appendix 3.
Recommendation - That in terms of stated strategic commitments to training staff, particularly in relation to the treatment of victims and witnesses, the bereaved, and domestic abuse cases that all relevant staff are identified, offered the appropriate training and that monitoring processes are put in place to ensure that the commitment is fulfilled.
Links with People Strategy
76. Three aspects are mentioned:
1. Leading and managing - courses are currently available at SVQ level 3. Courses in leadership at ILM level 5 are in development. We provide more detail of management courses in Chapter 5.
2. Improving performance - course on competency framework. An e-learning package was designed to explain the new competency framework and this was made available to staff during the early part of 2010. However, the Director of HR requested that Learning and Development consultants visit each Area before the end of June 2010 to provide face to face training, in each Area, to supplement this e-learning.
3. Managerial support - examples cited are resources such as the managers' charter and toolkit resource online. Additional resource is available from an online support resource, Academy 10 but this is not widely used and we believe is not widely known.
Links with Careering Ahead Report
77. This report followed a project to look at roles and career paths of administrative staff and precognition officers. Many of the recommendations have made their way into practice, namely sponsorship for degree qualification and the new qualification opportunities such as the ILM management courses and the new Certificate in Prosecution Practice.
78. Other recommendations In Careering Ahead such as minimum training days per year do not feature. During our benchmarking activity with both the Crown Prosecution Service and the police college we noted that minimum training levels per employee were considered by them but ruled out as unrealistic.
Engaging with Stakeholders
79. The strategy states that identification of the strategic direction of Learning and Development and identification of long term requirements for the Service should be discussed at corporate level at the Corporate Issues Sub Group, while at operational level the Learning and Development Steering Group was to play a part in this process. At local level the strategy promised engagement with Area Fiscals, Area Business Managers and local training committees. We discuss how Learning and Development Division engages with these various stakeholders in Chapter 3 (Learning Needs Analysis) and Chapter 10 (Partnerships).
Prioritisation and Corporate Governance
80. We were advised that previous methods of dealing with new initiatives that had training implications were lacking in governance arrangements. The process for prioritising projects has now altered. The Corporate Issues Sub Group and Strategy and Delivery Division provide a project management governance framework for new projects and this includes training projects, particularly training with service wide implications. It became apparent to us that although the new governance arrangements are in place for new training projects to be approved at corporate level at the Corporate Issues Sub Group, not all new training projects appear to undergo this process. One example cited to us was the new Mentoring project. We examine in more detail in Chapter 5 how we observed the governance arrangements in operation in relation to two new projects in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service with training implications. (Sexual Offences legislation and PHOENIX)
Driving Improved Performance
81. The strategy committed to providing a clearer picture of what was expected of each employee's performance by mapping roles to competencies expected and then providing a 'menu of essential and desirable learning options including vocational training'. Whilst a competency framework has been published recently on the Learning and Development page of the intranet, the learning options tailored to meet competencies has not yet been developed. This will be an important piece of work for the Service and should make clearer for staff what type of training they should seek to improve their performance in their current post as well as looking ahead to possible career progression.
82. At the time of our inspection there was no In-house course on the prospectus dealing with leadership skills at a more senior level. We were advised that work was progressing towards providing such a course by July 2010. Leadership training offered by external partners was available and these opportunities, such as the BSc in Professional Enquiry at Tulliallan, were circulated to senior managers.
83. We discuss in further detail in Chapter 5, the corporate and Area induction arrangements as well as other aspects of induction, including legal induction, and induction or training specifically designed for those going into new roles.
84. As well as a mandatory diversity course for all new entrants there is now a refresher e-learning product which is available and is suggested should be completed on an annual basis. Although available, there is no system for monitoring whether such learning is undertaken. This is one of a number of courses available that directly meet strategic aims of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service but without systems in place to monitor uptake it is difficult to see how as an organisation the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service can be assured of meeting these aims.
CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
85. As mentioned above, all lawyers in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are members of the Law Society of Scotland and as such are required to carry out a minimum of 20 hours CPD annually. According to the Law Society of Scotland these should be training on specific legal topics, management and organisation, communication and other areas designed to improve effectiveness in the work carried out by the solicitor. The curriculum provided by Learning and Development provides a range of courses particularly for those in the early years of their profession but some longer in the service found that there were fewer courses beyond basic level on offer from Learning and Development.
86. There are a number of vocational courses on offer for those staff carrying out precognition work. These include the basic precognition course, witness interviewing course, child precognition and vulnerable witnesses. In addition there is an opportunity to apply to work towards the Certificate of Prosecution Studies. This course has been designed specifically by Glasgow Central College in consultation with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and is delivered externally. The first cohort has completed the 80 hour course covering criminal law and criminal procedure with a graduation ceremony planned to take place shortly. The successful candidates will receive a certificate indicating achievement at level 8 of the Scottish credit and qualifications framework.
87. This was under development at the time of our inspection. This initiative seeks to address specific points of learning by delivering a focussed 'power hour' of learning by way of an e-learning package. A questionnaire was designed by Learning and Development consultants and circulated around staff in the service seeking views as to topics which might be covered in these power hours. This questionnaire had a number of suggestions for administrative topics but did not cover legal topics which we thought was something of a missed opportunity. Power hours, as a method of delivering a short training package on a topic, would be as relevant and appropriate to legal topics as to administrative functions.
88. This is not an area of Learning and Development involvement and we therefore did not explore it during our inspection.
89. In line with the Strategic Plan commitment to provide more e-learning opportunities particularly in view of the geographical dispersion of the Service, a range of e-learning packages have been developed and a full list of these can be found in Appendix 3.
Visits, Conferences, Events
90. Whilst Learning and Development Division facilitate hosting some conferences, we did not look at these as part of our inspection.
91. A qualifications policy is published on the IDEAL web page. Funding is offered for up to two part-time law degrees and the Diploma in Legal Practice. In addition funding for any other qualification at degree level or above which can be shown to support a business need is also available. Three senior members of legal staff are currently studying for a post graduate degree at the police college at Tulliallan. Six places are offered for a diploma in forensic science course at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities.
92. Financial support is also offered for diplomas and other certificated courses to level 3 SQA. Further, vocational courses are also offered which are completely work-based. Funding for courses is on a year by year basis and for those successful in obtaining funding for a degree course over a number of years there is a risk of funding not being made available in future years.
Career Development Guidance
93. Recent publication of the Competency framework and a programme of training to explain this in more detail to staff were in progress at the time of our inspection. The mapping of learning needs to roles and to competences was yet to be completed. Other than this work Learning and Development Division did not offer any formal career guidance service.
94. The Learning and Development Strategy is an ambitious document setting out the goals for the Learning and Development Division. It has been implemented to a considerable extent in the course of the last year since its publication. A number of new initiatives have been introduced as a result of its aims.
95. Some aspects have not yet been achieved such as higher level evaluation (which is discussed in Chapter 11 in more detail) and a number of new initiatives have been introduced like course sponsors, the area liaison system and the coaching and mentoring schemes which have yet to bed in.
96. If, as we are told, the Learning and Development Strategy is to be reviewed shortly we believe that this is a time for consolidation of what has been set in place to ensure that the many new initiatives are achieving their aim and for checking that the current offerings at Learning and Development are truly aligned with the corporate aims and objectives. In particular where a corporate commitment has been made to train staff this should be met with arrangements to ensure staff attendance on the necessary training course.
97. It is to the credit of the entire team at Learning and Development that the recent changes and initiatives have been implemented to such an extent in such a short time frame. The success of achieving the strategic aims expressed in the Learning and Development Strategy are dependent on the not just the Learning and Development team but also on the full co-operation of everyone working in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.