Austerity hit the Crown Prosecution Service hard. A six-year external recruitment ban, a shrinking headcount and external changes to the Criminal Justice System such as court reform and increased digitisation saw the government department facing an unprecedented talent crisis.
Historically, the CPS had enjoyed a sufficient supply of internal talent to fill critical leadership roles, but now innovation was critical to its future success.
Internal recruitment campaigns had highlighted this lack of strength and depth in the talent pipeline and, as a result, a number of positions remained unfilled, creating fragility in the delivery of core business.
Its response was to create a dedicated talent team to focus exclusively on addressing this issue. Its goals were to create a clear definition of talent and set out the expectations of existing leaders in identifying it; develop an approach for security of supply in internal leadership succession pipelines and deliver the infrastructure to support selection and development.
Internal data analysis of, for example, surveys and feedback from selection processes, led to the decision a targeted development opportunity needed to be designed and delivered. There was also a need to build a strong internal brand for the talent programmes to ensure a pool of willing candidates.
To ensure that these elements were properly captured in the design and delivery of the programme the CPS partnered with the Roffey Park Institute to produce a bespoke product that fitted its unique needs.
Some of the initiative’s specific success criteria were, for example, that all grade 6 and 7 managers have a detailed career conversation with their line manager; all participants be successfully assessed by an independent panel as being suitable to participate in the programme; that more than 50 per cent of future senior legal vacancies be filled by internal talent; that more than 50 per cent of participants on the scheme make a career move within two years of completing the programme.
Another commitment was that each cohort of the programme would be representative of the CPS workforce and UK population, diversifying the senior cadre.
Commended by judges for its future-focused and evidence-based talent transformation, the HR-led talent strategy has seen a huge impact on working lives, productivity and the success of the organisation more broadly.
More than 70 per cent of talent scheme alumni have since achieved career progression, with over 50 per cent progressing into senior leadership roles to date. More than 80 per cent of people from the 2017/18 cohort are now in senior leadership roles.
Staff engagement in the CPS, measured by the Civil Service people survey, is at its highest ever rating (65 per cent) and areas of the survey measuring perceptions of inclusion and fair treatment, leadership and change management, and organisational purpose have all risen since 2017.
Thanks to the initiative, the CPS now has a robust pipeline of internal talent and 80 per cent of business-critical roles have an identified internal successor.