chaos’ in Cambridgeshire courts due to private interpreter firm
Cambridgeshire courts were left in “chaos” when a
private contractor failed to provide adequate numbers of interpreters for
defendants at trials and other legal hearings, a Parliamentary committee has
Cases had to be delayed, postponed and abandoned because Applied
Language Services (ALS) only had 280 properly assessed interpreters ready for
use across the UK when the courts required 1,200.
“The result was total chaos,” Public Accounts Committee chairman
Margaret Hodge said. “Court officials have had to scramble to find qualified
interpreters at short notice, individuals have been kept on remand solely
because no interpreter was available and the quality of interpreters has at
times been appalling.”
However, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, who was Justice Minister at
the time ALS was awarded the annual £42million contract, said the situation had
improved dramatically in recent months.
“They’ve got the contract and a decision was taken earlier in the summer
to let them run with it rather than end it,” he said. “We have now got to make
sure it works.”
He acknowledged it was “very annoying to courts when they have
interpreters booked who don’t show or aren’t up to the job” and said providing
interpreters for some nationalities had been more problematic than others.
He said: “The last time I’d seen figures on it, they’d sorted it out in
Paul Bullen, a Huntingdon magistrate he resigned before standing as the
UKIP candidate in this year’s Police and Crime Commissioner election, said
there were “numerous times when we’ve had to abandon cases” due to failings
[…] "… a 51-year-old
Vietnamese, was charged with producing a Class B drug, and brought before South
Tyneside magistrates’ court yesterday. There was no interpreter
available for Chou, who does not speak any English, and the case could not go
ahead. Chou, of no fixed abode, was remanded in custody. She was due to appear in
court again today with an interpreter."