Chapter 5 – Prospectus
201. It is accepted that not all learning needs require formal training. For example it may be that reading latest case law or legislative changes may suffice. The Knowledge Bank is an excellent resource available to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff in this regard. We also acknowledge that forum/discussion/networking groups sharing best practice, as well as secondments and other practical working opportunities such as job shadowing, all contribute to learning and development in a way that cannot be achieved in training courses. These were not the focus of this inspection however and we have, for the purposes of this inspection, concentrated on the opportunities provided by the Learning and Development Division.
202. The prospectus available at Learning and Development has a wide range of courses available for both legal and administrative staff. The courses are currently advertised on the Learning and Development page of the intranet ( IDEAL) in one long list. This is copied to Appendix 2 of this report. There are plans to revise the layout of this list to separate legal courses from non legal courses. We agree that this will make it easier for intended delegates to navigate their way around the site and locate suitable courses for themselves.
203. The list includes courses which relate directly to knowledge and skills required to carry out specific roles within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (vocational courses). In addition there are a range of developmental training events including courses for managers and leaders in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
204. In general terms feedback to the Inspectorate highlighted the good introductory courses on offer but a perceived lack of more advanced courses for lawyers working on cases involving serious crime available at Learning and Development. For example one respondent to our survey thought that recent advances in criminal investigation techniques and the associated issues involved in presentation of technical evidence in court would be worthy of coverage in training and of value to many prosecutors.
205. The prospectus also contains some courses on topics that could be described as of a specialist character such those relating to deaths or sexual offences. However it is generally the case at present that more specialist needs are not met in the courses offered at Learning and Development. Staff in posts in specialist units source much of their training externally but find generic courses such as those on management useful. Some courses of a specialist nature for example on Proceeds of Crime and Covert Human Intelligence Sources ( CHIS) have taken place at the Scottish Prosecution College but the role of Learning and Development has been purely as facilitator rather than in developing and delivering the materials.
206. E-Learning is now an accepted part of the curriculum. There are drawbacks of e-learning. Some cited to us were the need for access to computers in a quiet uninterrupted environment which was hard to achieve in some offices and the lack of opportunity to ask questions of the trainer. Indeed in the CIPD Annual Survey Report of 2009 e-learning was deemed to be one of the most effective learning and development practices by only 7% of respondents to their survey. There are however considerable benefits for both staff and managers in having an e-learning package available to access instantly covering the necessary learning points. In the same CIPD Annual Survey 42% or respondents said they had used e-learning more in their organisation. Appendix 3 shows the current list of e-learning packages available from Learning and Development Division.
207. In light of the recommendations of the 2002 Management Review we took an overview of three topics particularly singled out for recommendation there -
- Management training
208. The first training or learning encountered in an organisation is the induction package. The 2002 Management Review recommended that induction training be "revisited and strengthened". It does appear that there have been some changes to induction practice in recent years, although these changes are not reflected in the Staff Handbook which should be updated.
209. There is a corporate DVD introduction to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which includes a personal message from the Crown Agent. In addition most (but not all) Areas have now completed their local induction package for new staff. The responsibility for ensuring that the new entrant receives the corporate and Area induction appears to rest with the Area in which the employee is based. HR does not monitor whether this aspect of induction takes place, nor does Learning and Development Division.
210. The only aspect of induction with which Learning and Development Division is directly involved is in relation to a two day mandatory diversity course for which a date is offered to the delegate by Learning and Development Division. The course should be undertaken within two months of starting work but some staff do not attend within this timescale. The Learning and Development Division Office Manager periodically runs a check on those who have not attended this mandatory course and further dates are offered although we learned of exceptional cases where two years had elapsed.
211. All new legal staff and trainees in their second year of traineeship are required to complete four modules. These are as follows:-
1. Court Preparation and Administration
2. Court and Support Issues
3. Case Marking
4. Advocacy 1 9
212. In addition to the 4 modules they must complete Advocacy 2 10. The Legal Manager in Learning and Development Division is responsible for confirming that all necessary courses have been attended and that the certification application properly records that the Depute concerned has fulfilled the additional work based learning requirements.
213. The line manager's responsibility is to ensure that the Depute or trainee is provided with sufficient opportunity to reach the required standard for each competence by the second anniversary of the appointment and to ensure the release of that Depute for the mandatory legal induction modules. Deputes must make themselves available to attend mandatory training.
214. At present when a trainee starts their second year or a new Depute joins the Service they must apply for the mandatory courses leading to their certification as competent Deputes. Whilst there may be encouragement, some Deputes find that their certification process delayed because they have not attended mandatory training modules although we were told that this is sometimes because they have not applied in sufficient time for courses. In particular, Advocacy 1 (legal module 4) and Advocacy 2 have limited places (8 - 10 maximum).
215. During our inspection we learned that a review of the timing of provision of mandatory legal induction courses was being undertaken. One suggestion was that there should be greater collaboration between HR and Learning and Development to identify, at the earliest opportunity, numbers of trainees and new Deputes being recruited. Further that rather than the present system in operation that places on these courses could be allocated by Learning and Development Division at the appropriate time.
216. Of the 16 courses cancelled in the year from March 2009 to February 2010 11, two were legal modules. We also received comments such as the one below:
- "When I started it was several months before I attended the legal training modules." (Q15, 54)
217. And this from a legal line manager -
- "...one of my staff has been bounced on the Legal module 1 course twice and this is affecting his certification." ( LM Q16, 31)
218. We recommend that consideration is given to allocating mandatory legal modules on recruitment or at the end of first year traineeship so that such problems do not arise.
Recommendation - That course places are allocated by Learning and Development Division for diversity and legal induction modules so that timely attendance at the necessary course is assured and may be monitored.
219. As we neared the end of our inspection the Independent Review of Sheriff and Jury Procedure by Sheriff Principal Bowen was published. The review highlighted concerns expressed by Sheriffs about inexperienced Procurator Fiscal Deputes conducting solemn business and in particular the management of that business in the courts. We mention this as the current Depute certification process to complete induction requires attendance at the Advocacy 2 course.
220. Favourable comment was made about the standard and practicality of the programme of training, which was described as carefully devised and well structured, and of the "rigorous yet constructive" approach of the instructors.
221. Advocacy courses in the Scottish Prosecution College are delivered by a group of legal trainers, some of whom are based in the College and some of whom are operational in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. All are NITA (National Institute of Trial Advocacy) trained. The courses are designed to allow the delegates to 'learn by doing' in that they prepare and conduct mock cases, practising skills of examination in chief, cross examination and presenting closing arguments.
222. As Sheriff Principal Bowen pointed out however, attending such a course may not in itself provide sufficient grounding for the conduct of solemn work. The Independent Review advanced a number of suggestions as to how the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service could improve the quality of presentation of Sheriff and Jury cases including observing and assisting Advocate Deputes in the High Court, watching and assisting more experienced senior colleagues in courts, and establishing a system of mentoring. Further it was suggested that regular informal feedback from Sheriffs to 'Fiscals with management responsibility' should be encouraged.
223. These suggestions confirm the view we expressed earlier in our introduction to this report that training is only the beginning of the learning process and in order to be effective must be followed up by the opportunity to put that training into practice in a supportive environment.
224. One Area Training Committee told us that they planned to deliver short training presentations to legal staff on the procedural aspects of the conduct of both summary and solemn courts because Deputes were reportedly requiring support in the court on a day to day basis on procedural matters. Given that the advocacy courses focus on the presentational aspects of conducting trials rather than procedural aspects, it may be appropriate to consider in the course of the review of these courses whether procedural aspects could be incorporated into the materials to address these issues.
Recommendation - That consideration is given to including procedural aspects of solemn court work in legal induction. (Given the findings of the Independent Review of Sheriff and Jury Procedure)
225. Precognition is the process by which solemn cases are prepared for trial at both Sheriff and Jury and High Court level. Precognition work is carried out by legal staff, Precognition Officers and solemn caseworkers.
226. The prospectus at Learning and Development has a basic course entitled 'Precognition'. At present there is no identified course sponsor for this course. We understand that this course was first designed some years ago and was adopted onto the curriculum of Learning and Development Division when the Scottish Prosecution College opened. Therefore none of the original course specification documentation which we might have expected to see was available. We cannot comment therefore as to whether essential design and quality assurance processes took place.
227. In light of significant changes to the way precognition is carried out and new report formats for both Sheriff and Jury and High Court precognitions the basic precognition course is presently under review at Learning and Development Division. Although the basic precognition course requires review it was recognised that this review might usefully incorporate a review of the child precognition course (for those legal and precognition staff who are to interview children), witness interviewing course (aimed at Deputes and Precognition Officers of up to three years experience and focussing on how to deal with expert witnesses) and effective management of Sheriff and Jury cases course (for legal managers allocating precognition work to legal and precognition staff). A holistic review of all precognition-related training is therefore underway at present.
228. Three portfolio owners potentially have overlapping responsibilities in relation to training in these various aspects of operational precognition work and we were aware of engagement by Learning and Development Division with these stakeholders about this course review. At the time of our inspection course sponsor(s) had yet to be confirmed.
229. The current version of the Staff Handbook indicates that as part of induction into the role of Precognition Officer that basic precognition training is undertaken within three months of commencement, with the more advanced Witness Interviewing course within six months. There is no mention of the more recently introduced lower grade solemn caseworker. There is no indication that such an induction timetable is adhered to given that no monitoring arrangements exist in Learning and Development Division and the course materials for both the precognition course and the witness interviewing course refer to the target audience as 'deputes and precognition officers having up to three years experience'.
230. Given the strategic priority to the preparation of solemn casework it is vital that this review of training courses for precognition-related work is completed without delay. Those staff that are not legally qualified and newly promoted to any form of precognition role will require timely training on their new role. The current review of precognition related training should therefore include consideration of an induction timetable and monitoring arrangements.
231. We envisage that this work will dovetail with the mapping of training in relation to the competency framework referred to in Chapter 2. In this connection it may be appropriate to consider the standing of the newly offered Certificate in Prosecution Studies 12.
Recommendation - That in relation to all courses involving precognition work a holistic review is undertaken in consultation with identified course sponsor(s) and that the question of induction into the role of precognoser be taken into account in this review.
232. In light of the 2002 Management Review recommendation about priority to management and communication training and commitment to this in the Learning and Development Strategy we took an overview of what training courses were offered on the Learning and Development Division prospectus under this broad heading.
233. There are two courses, designed 'in-house', relating exclusively to legal managers managing teams of precognosers in solemn cases. These are:
- Effective Management of Serious and Complex Cases
- Effective Management of Sheriff and Jury Cases
234. The remaining courses are generic management courses, externally sourced but delivered 'in-house' by Learning and Development Division consultants who have fulfilled the requirements of the external providers to be accredited trainers. Some are tailored to meet the particular needs of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. These briefly are:
- Just About Managing - This course has a module designed to highlight to managers their responsibilities in relation to developing their staff and refers to the Managers' Charter (a document setting out expectations of managers' conduct and attitudes). In addition, online resources are available in the form of the managers' toolkit. The toolkit is a generic resource and provides helpful tips including suggestions about a range of learning and development options that might be considered by a manager. They also include suggestions as to how to promote learning and development opportunities at team briefings, promoting a coaching style of leadership, how to conduct personal development interviews and how to diagnose skills and knowledge gaps.
- Certificate in First Line Management ( CFLM). This course is designed by the Institute of Leadership & Management ( ILM), modified by Learning and Development Division to suit the needs of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service managers and condensed into eight modules. As an ILM accredited course there is ongoing assessment work, marked by accredited Learning and Development Division staff. Having successfully completed the modules and associated assessment work delegates receive a certificate at SVQ Level 3.
Following some last minute withdrawals by some managers from the last ILM modules Learning and Development Division now offer the modules without assessment as an alternative option for those who not interested in obtaining a certificate but nonetheless wishing to obtain the training.
- The more advanced ILM Level 5 Diploma in Management was being developed at the time of our inspection and was offered for the first time in July 2010.
- People, Change and Innovation. This course concerns managing change and how to identify and deal with potential obstacles to change. It uses an interactive IT technology and is designed for teams rather than individuals.
- ILM Coaching for Team Leaders and First Line Managers. Coaching, according to the course information, is defined as the "process of enabling individuals to acquire the knowledge, skills and techniques needed to perform effectively in their occupational role by motivating, inspiring, challenging, stimulating and guiding them." This was just being introduced as we carried out our inspection. We were advised of a disappointing number of people applying for this course as a result of which the second planned cohort had to be cancelled.
- Mentoring. Previously some informal mentoring arrangements were in place in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service but this is the first formal mentoring programme. This scheme was being set up during our inspection. We were advised that 60 mentees had applied but that there was a shortfall of volunteers in senior civil service ranks to be mentors. The aim of the programme was to improve communication and help both mentors and mentees to gain a better understanding of the issues faced by them in their work.
235. There are also a number of additional courses dealing with specific management issues such as:
- Managers Managing Stress
- Managing Difficult Conversations
- Project Management
236. As indicated above there is an evolving structure of managerial training now being offered in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Of those who responded to our survey 11 had attended some type of management course recently. Four had attended a Certificate in First Line Management module, three had attended Just About Managing and the others had attended Project Management, Managing Change, Managing Serious and Complex Cases and Managing Sheriff and Jury Cases respectively.
Induction to New Roles
237. Although Learning and Development Division monitors arrangements for corporate induction and legal induction there is no formal induction timetable for those appointed to new roles within the service. For newly appointed managers (either legal or non legal) there is no requirement to attend any of these management courses. We have already commented in this chapter about precognition induction.
238. Whilst we were advised by the head of Victim Information and Advice that certain courses were mandatory for all newly appointed VIA Officers there is no reference to this in the Induction section of the Staff Handbook.
239. In relation to deaths training, the specification recommended that both courses should be mandatory for all Deputes before they undertook this type of work. In the event, when the course materials were finalised the target audience was identified as legal staff dealing with the receipt of deaths reports (Course 1) and Deputes and precognosers involved with further investigation of deaths up to and including the preparation of a FAI (Course 2).
240. Although designed with legal staff in mind some Victim Information and Advice staff attended the Deaths 2 course to gain an understanding of the role of the Fiscal in investigating deaths and to receive the training on dealing with bereaved relatives. In light of the commitment in the Strategic Plan to ensure training for staff involved in dealing with bereaved relatives we were surprised to find that the courses were not mandatory for those (legal and non legal) staff dealing with the bereaved. The Staff Handbook makes no mention of these courses.
241. We compared arrangements with the Crown Prosecution Service. There induction training for new roles was being promoted and we suggest that this is a matter which the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service should consider.
Recommendation - That consideration is given to an induction timetable to include new roles such as managers, precognition officers, Victim Information and Advice staff and those working in Deaths and that monitoring arrangements are put in place to ensure that the proscribed timetable is followed. The Staff Handbook should be updated to this effect.
242. Induction for new entrants to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has improved in recent years with a combined corporate and local approach. As with the current system for diversity a proactive allocation system for legal induction is recommended.
243. As with all inspection work we were conscious that work was ongoing while we conducted our inspection. Provision for management training was evolving with new initiatives including coaching, mentoring and the new Level 5 ILM course for senior managers. Also, in relation to the mapping exercise, we hope that the result will be a comprehensive framework for all staff in the Service who will be clear about their career path and the learning and development requirements and opportunities to progress in their chosen field.
244. Where basic skills and knowledge are a pre-requisite for carrying out roles there should be a clear statement about what training or other learning and development activities are required and when these should be undertaken. We considered that ongoing work on the mapping of training to roles and competence frameworks should include providing an induction timetable for those commencing new roles in the Service, in particular those new to precognition and management roles as well as those involved in investigating deaths and Victim Information and Advice.