Chapter 1 – Leadership
The Structures at Corporate Level
21. Corporate leadership with regard to training and learning and development sits with the Director of Human Resources ( HR). Learning and Development Division sits within HR and the Head of Learning and Development Division reports directly to the Director of HR. The Director of HR sits on a range of strategic groups in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service namely on the Management Board, on the Corporate Issues Sub Group ( CISG), on the Area Fiscals Group ( AFG) and also on the Area Business Managers Group ( ABMG). The Head of Learning and Development Division also attends the Corporate Issues Sub Group meetings.
22. The specific objective in the remit of CISG in relation to learning and development is:
- To ensure that its training and development plans meet the business needs of the Service, by providing strategic oversight to the Training Steering Group.
23. The remit of the Area Fiscals Group is to review operational performance, delivery and practice. The Area Fiscals have a shared responsibility to lead the service and deliver business goals and strategic priorities. Area Fiscals and some members of the Management Board are also portfolio owners of specific core operational areas of work.
24. The remit of the Area Business Managers Group is to review operational performance and review development and progress of corporate initiatives and responsibilities.
25. The Director of HR, with a place at each of the group meetings, is in a position to obtain a strategic view of the needs of the Service in relation to learning and development. This is then disseminated to the Head of Learning and Development for action and delivery.
26. Corporate structure map:
27. The creation of Portfolio Owners or champions of particular topics/areas of work was introduced in 2009 as a way of ensuring focus on these topics at strategic level. The portfolio owners have lead responsibility and work in close consultation with those in Crown Office (such as the Head of Policy or Deputy Crown Agent) who have overall responsibility for the corporate outcome. They act as champions for their portfolio areas and ensure that there is liaison with other portfolios when common interests arise. Responsibility for specifying and approving the content of any training rests with the portfolio owner whilst Learning and Development Division is expected to design and deliver such training.
28. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service corporate commitment to learning and development of staff can be shown through a number of statements in published documents.
29. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategic Plan 2009-2012 has five main objectives. These, in brief, are:
1. Delivering swift, effective justice, giving priority to cases involving serious crime, including sexual offences, serious violence, organised crime and drug trafficking.
2. Working with police, communities and others to tackle persistent offending, crime and disorder.
3. Ensuring the proper investigation of deaths.
4. Providing services to meet the needs of victims, witnesses and next of kin.
5. Promoting diversity and tolerance.
30. And five key values - Independence, Integrity, Sensitivity, Respect and Professionalism.
31. In this context the Strategic Plan states a clear corporate commitment by Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to learning and development of staff with regard to certain key strategic objectives, namely -
- In relation to victims - "we ensure that all our staff know what standards are expected of them in meeting the needs of victims, witnesses and bereaved relatives through detailed guidance and training".
- In relation to the investigation and prosecution of rape and sexual offences there is a commitment " ensuring the prosecutors are thoroughly trained and equipped for the investigation of rape and sexual offence cases and excellent presentation of these cases in court" and "only trained and accredited prosecutors will be involved in the investigation and prosecution of these cases".
- Diversity - "all our staff are required to attend our Diversity Awareness Programme".
- Domestic Abuse - "all our prosecutors will be trained to deal with the specialist nature of these cases effectively".
32. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service People Strategy 2008-2010 published in 2008 refers to developing and learning in that the organisation:
- "is committed to providing a positive learning environment that is accessible to all….." and
- "will provide the opportunity for all staff to develop skills and competence to reach their full potential aligned with business needs"
33. The newly published Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Managers' Charter details a series of statements setting out responsibilities of managers at every grade and level within the Service. The statement directly related to learning and development is:
- "I will develop the people in my team and myself by - promoting continuous learning and development, making full use of the range of learning and development solutions,…'"
34. The above documents provide statements of commitment by senior management in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to learning and development of staff. The findings of this report confirm that in the main this commitment is being put into practice in the way that Learning and Development carries out its function, although some barriers exist in places in relation to the reported attitude of some managers in relation to learning and development and the practical difficulties in balancing operational priorities against training needs
Investors in People
35. 'Investors in People' is a standard of accreditation of an organisation. The award can be made at three levels; bronze, silver or gold. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service was re-accredited at silver level in 2009.
36. In order to achieve this award, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service had to produce evidence of its strategies and policies to external assessors who then interviewed or issued questionnaires to a range of staff. The results of this assessment were compiled in a report which was issued in confidence to the management board.
37. The report is extremely positive and reflects the development and implementation of the Learning and Development Strategy bringing about a culture of continuous learning through a "range of innovative and flexible ways".
38. The report cites examples of good leadership practice in relation to learning and development referring to the fact that some senior managers carry out a role in introducing some of the course on offer, demonstrating leaders' commitment to learning and development. We too found evidence of this during our inspection in relation to the format of some courses which are introduced by senior Fiscals.
Inspectorate of Prosecution Survey
39. There was broad agreement with the proposition that leaders and managers in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service were committed to learning and development of staff. There were 56 positive responses to question 1, one negative response and two equivocal answers.
- "A commitment is clear from Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to ongoing training and development of staff." (Q33, 13)
40. The responses indicated that staff experienced varying levels of commitment depending on individual managers.
41. We asked if staff believed that Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service leaders and managers are committed to learning and development of staff.
- "I do think certain managers will actively encourage colleagues to attend courses." (Q1, 35)
- "My present managers are so committed but this has not been my experience in other posts." (Q1, 47)
- "On any occasion that I have felt that I required training it has been provided." (Q1, 9)
42. Barriers cited included operational workloads -
- "Our personal workload is too heavy to fully concentrate on this vital role." (Q1, 45)
43. Whilst most staff told us that they felt that leaders in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service showed commitment to training and learning and development that did not always filter to local managers.
- "I feel that departmentally we are but improvements are needed locally." (Q1, 24)
44. Despite the generally positive response to our question about leaders' commitment, there were some less positive responses as to the actions of managers in demonstrating that commitment. One respondent commented that following their course their manager -
- "Showed complete lack of interest despite attempts to discuss/seek opportunities to use." (Q31, 32)
45. We sought to establish if any discussion took place between delegate and line manager before attendance at training. We asked if any analysis of skills/knowledge/attitudes was carried out before attendance at the course.
- "Had a brief discussion with my line manager prior to and after attending the course to ascertain knowledge/skills in the area." (Q25, 36)
46. There was a similarly positive response to question 3 where we asked if the line manager encouraged attendance at courses where there was an identified need with 54 out of 59 answering in the affirmative. Of those who responded in the negative the following is typical of the attitude displayed -
- "I feel that the job holder is the one that has to push to be allocated to attend training courses." (Q3, 24)
47. Fewer positive responses were given to question 4 about encouragement and time to carry out e-learning. 40 (68%) out of 59 gave positive responses. However among those who gave a positive response there was a difference between being encouraged to do the e-learning and being given the time to do it in their working day. We understand the reality of working in busy offices and units but maintain that a balance must be found.
48. One respondent summed up the problem -
- "E-Learning is definitely the way forward, however, in the real world, no one has time (nor is given time) to do these packages. These need to be rota'd (sic) in. The centre is fond of e-learning as it reduced abstractions but then offices have to fill the gaps whilst staff do the e-learning. We haven't achieved the right balance here yet. E-learning is lost sight of." (Q4, 55)
49. Some courses specify pre-course reading requirements. Our staff survey found that 32 (or 54%) out of 59 were advised of pre-course materials for their last course. Three people admitted they did not have time to read these. Others indicated that they read the materials in their own time. Examples of responses are as follows:
- "I …. was able to use the train trip down and the evening at the hotel prior to the course to thoroughly familiarise myself with the materials. I would not, however, have been able to do so during working hours given the pressure of business." (Q23, 7)
- " …..workload" (Q23, 13)
- "Did so in own time at home." (Q23, 16)
- "The course with which I had the biggest problem was the sexual offences course where the e-learning required was very time consuming ………. There really was no way I could take a day of concentrated e-learning out of the time I work in a busy unit, particularly since it is heavy going and needs to be considered with a minimum of disruption." (Q23, 31)
- "No time at work but looked at them at home." (Q23, 54)
50. If e-learning and pre-course reading is deemed necessary then it ought to be given time in the working day alongside operational requirements where possible.
Recommendation - That Managers are encouraged to support staff to attend courses, carry out e-learning and pre-course reading by allocating time for this to be done within the working day while giving consideration to business needs.
51. We conclude that overall a very positive message comes from leaders in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service about the importance of continuous learning and development. This is let down to a certain extent by some evidence of a lack of management 'buy in' to training among some managers in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. A number of line managers who responded to our survey indicated a willingness to participate to a greater extent by providing feedback after a delegate's attendance on a course if asked.
- "I have never been asked to provide feedback to Learning and Development." ( LM6)
- "I would provide feedback in necessary. If (sic) fact I think it would be beneficial to all concerned if this was mandatory." ( LM12)
- "I would definitely take part if asked." ( LM19)
- "Have not been asked. Would have no problem doing it." ( LM1)
52. Most managers surveyed confirmed that they considered staff training needs to meet business objectives as well as development needs and aspirations of their staff and that this takes place not only during appraisal process but at other times also. Just over half of the line managers who responded thought that the range of learning opportunities and courses on offer from Learning and Development Division met those needs.
53. This confirms the findings of the Civil Service People Survey 2009 3. Just over half of those who responded to that survey thought that learning and development activities in the last year had helped to improve their performance. Fewer than half thought that learning and development activities completed were helping to develop their career.
54. These findings indicate that there may be a gap between needs and opportunities for learning and development in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The challenge for leaders in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, particularly involved directly with learning and development is to find ways of engaging with staff to determine where those gaps are and how to address them.
55. We discuss in more detail in Chapter 3 how this is being approached at present and improvements might be achieved.
56. The Management Review of 2002 highlighted the sparse training and development opportunities for managers. We found that the situation is now much improved with a range of courses available for managers.
57. With the Director of HR and the Head of Learning and Development Division positioned within the corporate structure of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as described above, leadership in relation to learning and development is visible. These leaders are involved in strategic planning as we go on to discuss in Chapter 2.
58. Whilst it is accepted that individuals have a responsibility to improve or maintain their performance, leaders in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have important roles not only in making a commitment to staff to train and develop them but in following this through with action which makes a difference. This entails not only identifying with individuals where knowledge and skills gaps exist, but also contributing to the success of any training with support before and afterwards to ensure that the training input has an effective learning outcome.
59. Line managers play a crucial role in this by discussing and agreeing the learning needs of individuals as well as ensuring that their staff can be freed from their operational work to attend courses and to carry out e-learning and pre-course reading. It is essential that line managers are fully aware of arrangements to deliver training for their staff so that they can ensure that they can plan to release them for the same and we touch on the practical arrangements in this regard in Chapter 6.
60. For the most part we conclude that this is happening in terms of encouragement but is sometimes not followed through; for example when time away from operational duties to attend courses or complete e-learning is not permitted. We found evidence of withdrawals from courses due to work commitments (see Chapter 6 - Administration of Learning and Development) and a number of people commented on the difficulty in carrying out e-learning in busy, noisy open plan offices.
61. Leaders must also play their part in contributing their suggestions about the range of learning opportunities on offer and identifying gaps in training provision. We discuss in more detail how leaders such as portfolio owners and others in senior positions in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service can contribute to learning needs analysis in Chapter 3.
62. In order for the corporate commitment to learning and development to become a reality for everyone working in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service the skills of leaders must be promoted and enhanced so that they can ensure that this corporate vision is achieved. Leadership training and management training has received more emphasis in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in recent years. Part of this training involves the role of leaders and managers in the development of staff. We acknowledge the increased provision of training and support for managers and expect this work to be maintained and further developed.