NAFN Data & Intelligence Services Tameside Council

NAFN Professional Training & Development

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

The National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN) has been working with public sector organisations since 1997; responding to all of their data and intelligence needs in fighting fraud, crime, error and corruption. Today NAFN brings together a network of over450 organisations allowing them to share and facilitate the sharing of good practice, lessons learned and risk management strategies – all through NAFN as a central hub. For many years, NAFN has delivered training and webinars to support members to use our services effectively, become experts in their field, protect themselves and their organisations and better fulfil the objectives of our organisation (fighting fraud, crime, error and corruption). This initiative was designed to take it a step further. What if NAFN could become a central hub for public sector CPD training and allow all members access to a suite of courses designed to help protect their organisations and better share the best practice gathered over so many years?

Simply becoming a CPD certified organisation and developing CPD training packages was not enough. To truly change the landscape, encourage information sharing and store achievements securely, NAFN would need to have its own e-learning platform. In 2020 NAFN sourced a platform, which could host the NAFN Professional Training and Development project with ambitious aims and objectives. The project sought to create a safe learning space for new starters/beginners to experts; a single learning hub for all public sector organisations; a secure platform, utilising multiple factor login; secure access 24/7,365 days a year; utilise the vast network within NAFN to develop courses through collaborative working; secure storage of the record of achievement for each individual learner.

The overall objective is to standardise the level of training nationally and throughout the NAFN community including public and wider public sector organisations and housing associations. Even further, the initiative would align such relevant learning with the Police and other investigatory services, ensuring the only disparity is the context in which the knowledge is applied. For too long local authorities have been on the periphery of such training; however this initiative prioritises their activities and ensures all courses are developed with examples applicable to their work areas. Effective and secure sharing of this learning is key to the success of this project. Longer term, the initiative will provide for reduced public sector costs. By centralising and standardising the training nationally, a reduction in costs for all members will be achieved while providing fundamental training in Intelligence, the investigatory powers act and general fraud awareness which in turn could save further costs incurred though error. Essentially, public sector will share the cost for shared learning; therefore making the cost relatively negligible per organisation.

What are the key achievements?

Since launching NAFN Professional Training and Development in 2021, NAFN has provided secure access to the learning hub for over 16,000 public sector officers. The first course ever published targeted 3,000 users and within a year the numbers completing and in progress continues to grow. Secure access was a key consideration for the new platform. Understanding the NAFN website had four-factor authentication, NAFN worked alongside the e-learning platform provider to create a single sign on (SSO); a bespoke development to the original package that allowed NAFN members to access their training using the secure information used to access their NAFN account. Users can now access their learning hub at the click of a single button.

NAFN has developed five courses to date each with multiple modules, assessments and CPD certification for members. In order to maximise the benefits, NAFN also sought CPD certification from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in order that all local authority Trading Standards officers could count the learning towards there professional qualification. In addition, a discounted joining fee was negotiated for NAFN member Trading Standards officers who had not yet joined CTSI. In collaboration CTSI and NAFN have ensured Trading Standards officers are heavily incentivised to complete the training whilst ensuring they gather knowledge essential to their roles. The first course focused on the Investigatory Powers Act and provided five modules for learners to learn review and evaluate knowledge. We have since created the NR3S, IPA vs DPA, Intelligence and worked with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to provide one of their scorm packages supporting learning regarding Bid Rigging in Public Procurement. By taking the step to have its own e-learning platform, NAFN Professional Training and Development can share training packages developed by other organisations therefore extending the reach and allowing more public sectors officers to benefit from the learning.

Home Office stated:
“The training NAFN provides could enable the NAFN community to become part of a more nationally interoperable people environment“

Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office stated:
“The training is excellent and the platform looks great”

Member advice to team:
“I would encourage all of you to take advantage of this to expand your understanding of the benefits of Comms Data in your investigations. You should record it…as a completed development objective.”

How innovative is your initiative?

NAFN is the only organisation legally allowed to submit requests for acquisition of communications data from local authorities. By reputation, the Single Point of Contact (SPoC) unit has attracted membership from wider public authorities for which is not cost effective to develop their own SPoC unit. The expertise of NAFN SPoCs was harnessed to develop the Investigatory Powers Act course from the ground up. Not only does the course provide knowledge of the investigatory powers act it also provides guidance and support to submit an effective application. Over 3,000 users can acquire communications data using NAFN and this initiative provides a way of effectively sharing this guidance, not in a single training session or live webinar but in a secure place where the learner can revisit the training at any time.

Traditionally, Investigatory Powers Act training and the acquisition of communications data is known to be delivered by the College of Policing or private training providers at an extra cost to local and wider public authorities. NAFN’s very first course challenged this and provided an industry standard five module course aimed at local authorities and wider public authorities; organisations which often find barriers to accessing the training alternatives, particularly during this time of limited funding. NAFN is able to share the learning more effectively through this initiative and break down barriers. Understanding the member’s journey, NAFN didn’t just procure an e-learning platform, it developed a way for members to access their e-learning without logging in to a separate system or going through additional security measures. The development of the single sign on (SSO) took collaboration with the platform provider and further development to an existing platform in order to ensure the member journey was smooth. This facilitates swift and secure access without creating additional tasks for the user.

Public sector organisations are committed to continuous professional development. Whilst individual organisation may have their own learning platforms, NAFN’s initiative has created a hub to store the learning and development of over 16,000 users nationwide. Our initiative will allow us to benchmark the learning of individuals in similar roles nationwide and support organisations, departments and teams to target learners to meet a national standard. NAFN seeks to host training packages from other reputable organisations, as this could only serve to further enrich the offer to members. This is also an effort to prevent duplication or course creation; therefore saving public funds.

What are the key learning points?

Whilst the project has been a success, there were notable challenges to overcome. At the outset NAFN faced a decision to build a bespoke e-learning platform or procure a pre-existing platform. An ‘off the shelf’ platform significantly reduced costs, provided an industry standard platform and both technical and operational support to NAFN administrators. However; the additional development required to respond to member needs, for example the SSO, had to be negotiated for delivery at no extra cost to ensure value for money. The development roadmap for the provider indicated an updated platform. Whilst the provider is flexible, their roadmap did not include our bespoke requirements. Whilst this has been resolved it is important to futureproof any project.

In procuring the e-learning platform, we may have faced significantly delays to the project delivery had we not been aware that our platform was known to many local authorities nationwide. We were able to use similar terms, as those already agreed to develop the specification, contract and procurement process. The willingness of organisations to share this information was crucial to the swift implementation of the project. Proactively reaching out to other organisations for testimonies and sight of collaborative contracts can assist greatly.

NAFN has approached other organisations with the offer to host their training on our platform reaching over 16,000 public sector officers; however there remains a culture of silos which, although significantly improved, continues to hinder the opportunities that could be realised through collaborative working. NAFN aims to prevent duplication and save public sector funds, therefore collaboration, effective sharing of information and courses in this area would be beneficial to all parties.