21 February 2012
Pay-cut interpreters in justice protest
Interpreters have criticised a Delph-based company and the Ministry of Justice over a radical and controversial agreement to provide language services at courts through one supplier.
A group called Justice for Interpreters protested outside the Ministry of Justice’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal offices in Manchester city centre yesterday against Applied Language Solutions (ALS).
It is contracted to offer interpreters and translators to all courts and justice agencies across England and Wales.
The protesters fear standards will be lowered following cuts in pay, and that miscarriages of justice could be caused. The new framework will also lead to a drop in interpreting quality, they claim, allegations which ALS strongly deny.
One Oldham man, Iqbal Ahmed, a full-time freelance interpreter of 42 years, said more money would be wasted in courts through the new system.
The 70-year-old Clarksfield resident, one of around 40 protesting freelance interpreters, said: “If an interpreter was getting paid £100 to attend crown court and now he is getting £22, why should he go?”
The group also claims that in recent weeks — since the agreement was implemented — there have been several adjournments in courts because ALS failed to provide interpreters on time.
Khalid Khan, another protesting freelance interpreter, said: “People should be entitled to the proper services when they go to court or a judiciary service.
“If they are not provided with a registered and qualified interpreter they have been hoodwinked out of the rights they have.”