Learning and Development
A management review report published in February 2002 (The Pryce-Dyer Report) found that there was a low level of investment in training in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Using the then Scottish Executive as a comparator it was noted that 0.75% of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service budget was dedicated to training compared with 2.7% of the Scottish Executive budget. Staff in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service could expect only two days training in comparison to five in the Scottish Executive.
The Pryce-Dyer Report (not surprisingly) recommended that the Training Unit be strengthened to support a significant improvement in the level and coverage of training across the organisation and represented appropriately on the Management Board by the Human Resources Director. This and other recommendations have been implemented and a formal Learning and Development Strategy has been devised by the Crown Office and Procurator
Fiscal Service to focus its aims and objectives. In recent years there has been a shift of emphasis from training to learning and development.
In 2007 Training Division moved from its base in Edinburgh to the new Scottish Prosecution College in Glasgow and in 2008, signalling this change in emphasis, the name of the division was changed to Learning and Development.
There has been an increase in investment in learning and development since the 2002 Pryce-Dyer Report and now represents just over 1% of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service budget.
Given that backdrop it was considered timely to inspect the provision of training and/or learning and development and to take stock of changes and improvements.
We would like to again record our thanks to the Senior Management at Learning and Development for their willingness and active co-operation in the production of this report. Their willingness to consider suggestions for improvement was refreshing.
Overall, the inspection found that the corporate structure of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service allowed consideration of training and learning and development at the highest level. Corporate leadership still remained,
as recommended, with the Director of Human Resources who sat on the Management Board, the Area Fiscals' Group and other groups. As a result the Director of HR was well placed to obtain a strategic view of the training and development needs of the staff in the service and this was cascaded to the Head of Learning and Development and so on through the development team.
We found that this corporate commitment was reflected in staff attitudes. Staff felt that the commitment was being put into practice albeit there was some complaints about staff not being allowed sufficient time to attend courses or to prepare for them.
We recognise the competing priorities in the workplace but found it encouraging to note that there was the provision of additional resources for managers by way of the new manager's toolkit (available online) and developments such as coaching and mentoring.
A Learning and Development Strategy had been published in 2009 and this acknowledged the importance of alignment of learning and development activities with the organisation's aims.
We found that in order to ensure that Learning and Development Division was aligned with the business needs and strategic aims of the organisation it relied on its links with stakeholders. This was done by various means through, for example, course sponsors, through the Learning and Development Steering Group and through Area liaison. It was felt that some of these required some strengthening to ensure effectiveness.
Each member of staff has a personal development plan. However, we found that these were not necessarily referred to Learning and Development and, even where they were, they were not used to inform future planning.
The range of courses and e-learning packages available through Learning and Development was greater than at any time in the past and the prospectus continued to expand to provide a greater choice of training courses and other learning opportunities for staff.
We made some recommendations in relation to the arrangements for mandatory induction courses and noted that some courses such as the treatment of victims, next of kin and domestic abuse and on deaths were opt in rather than mandatory.
We found the facilities at the Prosecution College very good although there were some space issues.
So far as evaluation of courses was concerned these were measured in terms of instant reaction and understanding only. This did not provide meaningful feedback to managers on the effectiveness of the training. It is acknowledged that evaluation of training is a very difficult area.
In total we made 28 recommendations which were designed to be supportive of and build on existing strengths.
Our understanding is that all 28 recommendations were accepted and this has been reflected in some of the senior management minutes we have seen.