Bullying and workloads hit morale of criminal justice staff

Staff working in Scotland's criminal justice system have some of the lowest levels of morale in the UK civil service, new figures show.

Morale among staff working in Scotland's criminal justice system is low, new figures have revealed

According to the annual People Survey, which looks at the experience of those working in government departments, just 57 per cent of those working for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) feel valued at work, while the figure for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is even lower at 45 per cent.

That compares to 70 per cent of Scottish Government employees and 65 per cent median across the UK civil service as a whole.

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Nearly a fifth of SPS staff (18 per cent) said they had personally experienced bullying or harassment in the past year, along with 15 per cent of COPFS employees and 11 per cent of those working for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. Almost a quarter of prison staff (23 per cent) said they had been personally discriminated against in the past year.

The Scottish Parliament’s justice committee is currently holding an inquiry into the work of the Crown Office and this week heard evidence that prosecutors are struggling to cope with their workloads amid budget cuts.

Fiona Eadie, secretary of the FDA union’s Procurator Fiscal Society section, said: “The COPFS has suffered a real terms cut of 21.5 per cent in its budget. Our members are dedicated professionals working hard in difficult circumstances, but these results cannot be a surprise against a background of such cuts.

“We were pleased to see a 10 per cent rise this year in the leadership and managing change result, but there is still some way to go. Ministers must now take note of these results and match their rhetoric with more resources for COPFS.”

When asked if they had an acceptable workload, just 56 per cent of Crown Office staff agreed, while the figure was 58 per cent for SPS employees and 71 per cent among those working for SCTS.

Just 37 per cent of COPFS staff and 31 per cent of those working for the SPS felt their organisation was well managed, with the vast majority saying they did not feel safe challenging the way things are done.

A Crown Office spokesman: “We have a policy of zero tolerance of bullying, harassment and discrimination. Any instances which are reported to management are taken extremely seriously.

“We also take action against those in other agencies and customers who bully our staff and we encourage any member of staff who is experiencing bullying to alert us to the problem.

“Staff are now part of an ongoing consultation about the future of the service and how changes to the organisation affect them, their development and their wellbeing.”

A spokeswoman for the SPS said: “We are encouraged to see that the majority of our staff are clear about our organisational objectives and purpose.

“SPS continues to improve development options and support for staff and this week we have launched the ­#nobystanders campaign to coincide with anti-bullying week UK.”