first_imgHelping justice prevailOn 1 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Newlegislation meant the Crown Prosecution Service had to train 4,000 lawyers andcaseworkers nationwide in legislative and non-legislative measures. Enter ablended solution. By Sue WeekesWhilewe’re all aware of the law, most of us can only guess at how much work has tobe done behind the scenes to disseminate new information each time newlegislation is introduced.InJuly 2002, a new piece of legislation came into force regarding the treatmentof vulnerable or intimidated witnesses based on the Home Office’s Speaking Upfor Justice report. It made 78 recommendations to improve access to justice forsuch witnesses, ranging from the investigative stage, before a trial, during atrial and after a trial.Asa result, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to ensure that more than4,000 lawyers and caseworkers were fully trained in the raft of legislative andnon-legislative measures relating to it – a tall order given that these peoplewere spread up and down the country.TheCPS decided that e-learning might hold the key. It was always the CPS’intention to combine the e-learning with classroom training and saw the onlinecomponent as a way of raising knowledge levels about the new legislation priorto classroom sessions.Keyto success?”Wehad to disseminate as much knowledge about the legislation as possible anddecided some form of distance learning might be the answer,” says SheelaghMorton, policy adviser to the Crown Prosecution Service.”E-learningseemed to be the best medium. We felt it would enable us to update theinformation and allow us to provide hyperlinks to background material, as wellas include all the guidance material issued by the Home Office – so it would bea permanent resource as well as a training programme. This would bringindividuals up to a certain level and then they would be ready to startapplying it in the classroom,” says Morton.TheCPS put the e-online component of the job out to tender and it was won bye-learning consultancy IQdos, part of the Excel Communications Group, and whoseclients include British Airways, Channel 4, GlaxoSmithKline, Reuters andSiemens.Itsbrief was to design a programme to provide all those involved with the supportand preparation of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses for court, with thebasic legal knowledge to enable them to understand and implement thelegislative provisions. In summary, the training had to ensure lawyers andcaseworkers would be:–familiar with the new legislation and available guidance to inform best practice;–able to identify vulnerable or intimidated witnesses;–able to explain their role in the identification of vulnerable or intimidatedwitnesses through the court processes;–able to access detailed information about the law, practice and procedure forlawyers and case workers involving vulnerable or intimidated witnesses.”Thebiggest challenge for us was the sheer amount of information that had to beorganised,” says Sue Harley, managing director of IQdos, who explains thata multi-disciplined team of specialists worked on the programme, includingexperts in learning psychology and methodology, instructional design,multimedia, IT and project management. “It comes to about nine hours ofonline learning and we wanted to ensure that we presented the information in away that added value,” adds Harley.Aswell as managing and navigating through large amounts of data, Harley detailsthe other issues the programme had to address:–large numbers and a variety of users at different locations and with varying ITconsiderations–short lead and production times to meet a deadline of 24 July (IQdos wascontracted in May 2002)–the need for cost-effective solution that would meet the budget–flexibility and the need for the CPS to maintain and update the content itselfGettingstartedItwas the need to be able to update material that was one of the biggest driversbehind the technology that IQdos used for the project. It created a uniqueproduct for the CPS that was based on its e-learning authoring, contentmanagement and tracking tool, LaunchPad, which allows companies to create, editand publish their own e-learning content.”We’vemade it as easy to use as PowerPoint,” Harley claims. “You don’t needcomputer programming skills to use it. For the CPS, we built the programme,trained administrative staff in how to use it and then handed it over to them.We can usually train people in half a day and then offer three months free helpfollowing this.”TheLaunchPad starter kit also includes a ‘light’ learning management system andalthough at the moment the CPS’ programme is largely text-based, the kit doesgive users the option to add video, animation, interactive graphics and evenquizzes and games. (Do-it-yourself e-learning, albeit with the help of a leg-upfrom a consultancy or supplier, is a growing trend and is the focus of ourfeature on page 18).TheCPS’ course is split into two sections called simply ‘Basics’ and ‘Details’.”Basics is the basic amount of material that we’d want our members to knowand Details is a detailed explanation of the legislative and non-legislativemeasures,” says Morton.”It’sonly text-based at the moment so it can run across our network easily but weare thinking about multimedia for the future.” In terms of ITinfrastructure, the CPS didn’t have to install any new hardware because theprogramme can run across a range of technologies from the internet to all typesof networks, including the most basic ones.Completionof the IQdos programme is mandatory before attending the classroom training.Thethree-day classroom course is run by internal CPS training staff in partnershipwith the Ann Craft Trust, a national association dedicated to protecting adultsand children with learning difficulties from abuse. It aims to identify theskills and attitude changes needed to deal effectively with the range ofwitnesses who may be eligible for assistance under the provisions of the act.Theprogramme will be updated as the law is applied by the courts and additionalrulings are made. Next year, the CPS is planning to extend the learning tocover issues arising from the HMCPSI/HMIC Joint Inspection Report into theinvestigation and prosecution of cases involving allegations of rape. SharingknowledgeInaddition to this, the programme, especially with its ability to hyperlink to awealth of other information sources on the web, promotes a level of knowledgesharing that previously wasn’t possible within the criminal justice system.Thee-learning has already been made available to the CPS’ partners in the systemwhich include the Bar, the police and the witness service and, later this year,will be extended to the Law Society and a range of voluntary agencies, such asVictim Support.TheCPS is less concerned with return on investment than a commercial organisationbut still has to ensure that its outlay on the programme is justified. Mortonsays that about 4,000 classroom days are being saved and the CPS is committedto developing the use of e-learning in the future, after positive results fromits first implementation. Ultimately, the aim of the training is to ensure moreeffective prosecutions and the CPS is already seeing tangible results from thenew legislation.”Successfullegal cases have already followed the introduction of the legislation,including a case in which a man was jailed for five years for indecent assaultafter his disabled victim gave evidence to a jury via a TV link from her bed.The victim, a woman with multiple sclerosis, gave evidence over a live link tocourt from a nursing home.”Theconviction represents the first successful outcome of a case involving thespecial measures under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999,”says Morton.Whileblended solutions have become almost as hyped as e-learning was a few years ago(see Opinion, page 20), the CPS hopes it has struck the right balance with itsmix of online and classroom-based learning.Sofar, so good, believes Sheelagh Morton.”Thisblended initiative has marked an end to formal legal lectures in a classroomsetting. It has required a fundamental shift in the approach to legal training,with lawyers using the e-learning to equip themselves with the requiredknowledge,” she says. “The e-learning enables lawyers to access, researchand update their knowledge of legislative and non-legislative developments atthe right time.”Toptips for success–Get buy-in from all of your stakeholders–Assess your learners’ readiness for e-learning–Don’t over-complicate your solutionInsummaryKeeping up-to-date with legislationTheCrown Prosecution Service’s requirement: To train 4,000geographically-dispersed lawyers and caseworkers in new legislation regardingthe treatment of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses.Why?The Speaking up for Justice report made 78 recommendations which meant therewas a wealth of legislative and non-legislative measures that lawyers andcaseworkers had to be made aware of in a relatively short space of time. The e-learningprogramme is a mandatory course to be taken before a three-day classroomcourse.Ise-learning delivering? The CPS believes it has saved 4,000 classroom daysbut more significant than cost-savings is the fact that successful cases havealready followed the introduction of the legislation. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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