Skills for Justice is not attending the party conferences this year, due to resource. We are working in four key areas to support our mission of increasing employer investment in skills, so that we are able to continue to support a creative and talented workforce, delivering safe and fair services to the public across the UK.
1. The review of the Probation Trust consultation (Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Services)
The transfer of responsibility for delivering probation services to Probation Trusts.
When considering the most appropriate service provider, the assessment must be based on skills, knowledge and where possible track record. Skills for Justice has developed an award based on National Occupational Standards (NOS) that describes what knowledge and competence is required by those undertaking these roles in order to perform competently.
We strongly recommend that the delivery of this qualification by providers should be a requirement for all successful bids and would encourage the Ministry of Justice to include this as part of the procurement criteria.
Joining up Justice - one of the most significant challenges within the justice sector is collaboration across a multitude of agencies to reduce costs whilst also increasing quality and results. This is essential if we are to ensure safer communities relevant to today's society.
Our goal is to make segregated learning a thing of the past and to help speed up justice to increase the service to the public and help victims further. To help achieve this we are undertaking a substantial piece of work under the Employer Investment Fund called Joining up Justice. This shared online learning resource is a core induction tool for everyone in the justice sector, and it will enable staff to understand theirs and others roles within the wider criminal justice system, across all departments, all organisations and all geographical locations. This substantial piece of work will reduce time and resource required in important factors such as the time and money required to process a domestic burglary between arrest and court decision. An estimated cost saving of £40m pa through a 25% increase in early guilty pleas, as well as a potential £16m additional saving over 10 years by the introduction of a virtual court.
National Competency Assessment Frameworks (NCAF) Victims, survivors & witnesses, cybercrime and substance misuse
Skills for Justice is currently undertaking a piece of work to develop NCAF for four significant roles in the criminal justice sector: those supporting Victims, Survivors and Witnesses (VSW), those working in substance misuse services, those engaged in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, and those managing volunteers. The aim of these activities is to use our long standing expertise to significantly reduce lead times for those who are involved to make each pound invested in training, work harder than ever before, by ensuring the workforce is competent and efficient and that the resource of staff is best used.
This solution, which identifies the fundamental skills and knowledge required to ‘do the job properly' across various positions and organisations, supports a wide variety of roles and will clearly articulate the professional standards that are required of such roles as well as any training available. This will really help employees to be the very best that they can be in role and provide them with the information they need whether starting their career or progressing within their occupation. In making clear what ‘good' looks like, the frameworks will be useful for commissioners to use to ensure that they procure the most appropriate provision of services.
2. Inquiry into women offenders by the Justice Committee
Skills for Justice would like to suggest that the Ministry of Justice is allocated resources to conduct a thorough review of the skills needs of staff working with women in custodial settings.
The results should then form the basis of a review of the learning and development provision that staff undertake as initial training in the same way that staff working in Young Offenders Institutes (YOI) have to undertake specific training for working with young people in custody. The content of the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course is stretched and cannot adequately accommodate learning and development activities for those working in the female estate. Furthermore, there needs to be a suite of National Occupational Standards for those working with female offenders both in custody and the community. These standards will set benchmarks of performance for staff working in both the public and private sectors.
3. Legal services – radical changes, radical requirements
We're considered one of the leading authorities when it comes to the development of Apprenticeship frameworks. Changes within the legal services sector have resulted in an ever increasing skills gap to cope with, the results of which mean that functional skills and apprenticeships leading to a career in law will soon become the norm alongside the traditional academic route. With our help, law firms are completely transforming the industry post the Legal Services Act 2007; their appetite for recruiting Apprentices is growing, and with the launch of the first Legal Services national Apprenticeship frameworks we expect to see 750 level 4 Apprentices by 2014..
This is set to help add to the recent 10% rise in profits in the Legal Services sector. As law firms adapt to changes in the market we predict the number of paralegals to rise by 18% over the next five years, and the widespread adoption of a long overdue, pan industry standard for the professional accreditation and recognition of those in essential paralegal roles.
4. The challenges faced by the introduction of the new college of policing & the vital importance of standards
Skills for Justice, as the Sector Skills Council for Policing across the UK welcomes the development of the new College of Policing as a key step in the recognition of Policing as a true Profession and an opportunity to further improve and develop the already high standards of operational and professional skills within Policing across England and Wales.
With Tom Winsor having highlighted the vital role of the standards and qualifications we create and maintain for the Service it is essential that new structures and functions through the College make the most of the substantial investments and progress that have been made over the last 10 years. The Home Secretary endorsed PPF (Policing Professional Framework), developed with Forces provides an industry standard approach to defining the skills and standards required by Officers, making the planning and use of training, appraisal and qualifications easier and efficient, whilst improving interoperability and operational resilience. It is set to play a vital role both during and after the reform, having already enabled forces across England and Wales to reduce bureaucracy, releasing up to £150K per force; £6M across the Service. We are now working with the Scottish Police Service to create their own competence framework, building upon the PPF blueprint, which will provide the foundation for their own reform programme and workforce development over the next 5-10 years.