Embracing the flexibility of CPD has enabled the New Zealand Police legal teams to deliver some unique and collaborative learning experiences, and in doing so added a new dimension to their working environment and professional competence.
Police lawyers work in one of three legal teams – the Police Prosecution Service, Police Legal or Employment Relations.
These groups have utilised their own expertise, alongside the unique and varied resources at the Police to create some highly diverse learning opportunities.
This has seen a number of the teams experience on-the-job ride-alongs with sworn officers, sitting in with Police communications, or attending court with PPS prosecutors. This, in addition to other legal and non-legal activities, has meant a great deal of varied learning for the Police legal teams.
The Police also encourages its lawyers to actively look for CPD outside of the Police. Scott Spackman of Police Legal suggests that the learner-centred nature of CPD has allowed force legal staff to explore different learning mediums and bespoke learning events. These have provided invaluable learning activities that have aligned with the learning needs of the legal team and the Police.
Investment across whole legal team
The Police have added another layer of value by investing in how this learning can permeate the whole legal team. So, while not all of these activities are necessarily recorded towards an individual’s CPD requirements, all are reflected on and shared across the three teams.
This approach affords New Zealand Police lawyers the time and opportunity to research and prepare feedback to the wider team on their learning. In the employment relations team, lawyers convene each month as a study group where they take turns in sharing their learning. As well as broadening the contextual understanding of the position and value of the legal team at the Police, this also encourages individuals to take responsibility for the learning of the whole team.
“The collaboration between the various work groups facilitates stronger working relationships within Police together with the benefit of individuals getting an understanding and appreciation of the work of others which will only be of advantage in their own legal practice,” says Cathryn Curran-Tietjens, National Manager, Employee Relations.
Mark Wilton, Principal Prosecutor of the Police Prosecution Service, says the flexibility of CPD has enabled the Police to be responsive to specific CPD needs. This has included delivering in-house training on amendments to legislation or specific individual requests, and in contributing back to the wider profession through its advocacy courses held at the New Zealand Police College.
Mr Wilton says the courses have provided a wider and unexpected collaborative effect with lawyers from the Government Legal Network attending these advocacy sessions. He feels that the learning experience is greatly enhanced by this mixture of lawyers from other prosecuting departments and that their shared experience and various practices and experiences positively benefits the professional development of everyone involved.
Mark Wilton suggests that this team approach is providing valuable and tangible CPD as well as enhancing the understanding of and competency of the entire legal team.
The New Zealand Police legal teams encourage all lawyers to look for opportunities to create learning groups and share knowledge and expertise.