1. Introduction and Background
1.1 A knowledge base is a library of information organised in a logical manner to allow easy access to information support to assist staff to perform their duties efficiently and effectively. A knowledge base providing easy access to organisational guidance, policy, instructions, practices and legal case law is an invaluable asset to support service delivery.
1.2 A knowledge base can contain many different materials including policies, guidelines, manuals, circulars, case studies, DVDs, templates, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), PowerPoint presentations and synopses of lessons learned and it can provide direct links to e-learning modules. It can be accessed as a separate database or through live operational systems.
1.3 The COPFS Knowledge Bank was set up in 2008 as a 'Legal Knowledge Database' to provide legal staff with an information tool to research the law and provide guidance on how to conduct cases in court. The Knowledge Bank was based on the idea of 'Know How Banks' used by commercial law firms and was initially established and managed by a part‑time temporary Legal Editor supported by a Staff Information Manager and a small team of sub editors who were identified as having specialist knowledge.
1.4 Currently, the Knowledge Bank is managed by a part-time Legal Editor, supported by a Staff Information Manager based in the library at Crown Office.
Aim and Objectives
1.5 The aim of this inspection is to review the operation of COPFS Knowledge Bank and to consider the extent to which it provides complete, useful, relevant, specific, accurate, and timely information support to all staff.
1.6 The objectives of the inspection are:
- To determine whether policy and practice on the administration and management of COPFS Knowledge Bank are established, clear and implemented effectively
- To determine whether COPFS Knowledge Bank is accessible to all staff and is user friendly
- To determine whether COPFS Knowledge Bank is managed in an effective manner
- To evaluate whether the content on COPFS Knowledge Bank is helpful to users (both legal and non-legal staff) and is up to date and accurate
- To establish whether the performance of COPFS Knowledge Bank is monitored and analysed
- To evaluate whether the aims and objectives of COPFS Knowledge Bank are being met
1.7 The scope of this inspection included:
- Examining existing policies, strategies and commitments
- Identifying good practice guides
- Consulting with COPFS management and strategic leads.
- Meeting with relevant operational staff
- Observing the processes through practical demonstrations
- Issuing questionnaires and analysing results2
1.8 We are very grateful to all the COPFS staff who gave so generously of their time and contributed to our feedback survey during this inspection.
1.9 We are also grateful to staff at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who facilitated our benchmarking activities.