Tuesday, 20 August 2019

"interpreters were not used"

20 August 2019

[…] Prisoners who did not speak English were not given an induction in a language they understood as interpreters were not used. […]

Monday, 19 August 2019

'Devastated' workers 'owed thousands' by collapsed Debonair Languages


'Devastated' workers 'owed thousands' by collapsed Debonair Languages
Expert linguists have been left “devastated” and “struggling to put food on the table” as they claim they remain unpaid following the collapse of a Bolton business.
The interpreters and translators say they are owed thousands of pounds in wages from Debonair Languages which confirmed it had gone into administration as of August 5.
The Chorley Old Road-based firm employed thousands of agents across the country, including in contracts for the Ministry of Justice and thebigword ­— one of the UK’s largest specialist language agencies.
In the days following the announcement, dozens of former Debonair agents have contacted the Bolton News about the situation.
One woman said she is owed payments of almost £1,000, dating back to May, and said she feels like she is ‘going nowhere with getting money back,’ and leaving her ‘frustrated and stressed out’.
She added: “We all have bills, mortgage, family and children to look after. I currently have no work, no payment from all the previous work that I have done. I have no more savings, no income. I now struggle to even put food on the table.”
Another of Debonair’s former agents, who worked as a Mandarin interpreter, says she is owed more than £5,000. The agent had worked for thebigword but agreed to take on her first job for Debonair covering a 21-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court in June and July.
Speaking to the Bolton News she said she is “devastated” and despite continuing to chase Debonair for the wages owed she has been unable to get hold of anyone.
She added that the concern has put strain on her family and that she desperately needs the money to support her children’s studies.
Another fellow Mandarin interpreter said she still has outstanding payments from Debonair from the last three months totalling over £3,000. She added that she will soon have credit card payments to make and believes the agents’ treatment by Debonair is “very unfair”, especially as they provide services for the UK justice system.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Court interpreters in limbo after sub-contractor 'ceases operations'

15 August 2019 by Monidipa Fouzder

Court interpreters in limbo after sub-contractor 'ceases operations'
The main company contracted by the government to provide courtroom interpreting has pledged to honour bookings made by a sub-contractor which appears to be no longer in business.
Leeds-headquartered thebigword, which was awarded a Ministry of Justice contract in 2016, told the Gazette that Bolton-based Debonair Languages 'ceased operations' on 5 August.
Thebigword has agreed to honour bookings taking place on or after 5 August. For any bookings fulfilled by Debonair Languages before 5 August, thebigword remains responsible to pay Debonair for them. Debonair is responsible for paying its linguists.
A spokesperson for thebigword said: 'Debonair Languages ceased operations on Monday 5th August. Thebigword has put in measures to support linguists that had been working with Debonair and, where possible, welcome them to the other roles in thebigword community.'
The Gazette has tried to contact Debonair Languages several times this week.
Debonair Languages's website states that it works with the Ministry of Justice 'and offer a wide range of interpreters qualified to Standard level (community interpreting) all the way up to complex written qualified'.
The website says: 'Our interpreters are well versed in court proceedings and have extensive court experience. Every day we place interpreters into Crown Court bookings all over the country.'
Portuguese interpreter and translator Pedro Matias says he is owed £320.38 for legal interpreting work carried out in June and July, and has filed a civil money claim against Debonair Languages.
Matias believes that the ministry's decision to outsource interpreting and translation services through agencies has 'ultimately caused this issue'.  
He said: 'I must pay annual fees to be a member of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters and Chartered Institute of Linguistics, where anyone who requires my services can find me. Clients can reach out to linguists directly that way, without any involvement of third parties. However, unfortunately, the Ministry of Justice decided to stop doing that back in 2011.'
Before 2012, the Ministry of Justice booked courtroom interpreters directly from the national register through court staff. In 2012, a framework agreement under which courts and justice agencies obtain interpreters and translators through a single agency aroused fierce controversy.