27 Mar 2012
Court staff forced to rely on Google Translate
Court staff and lawyers have been forced to use Google Translate to communicate with non-English speaking defendants because of problems with the new interpreter service, it has been claimed.
One translator was also forced to get up a 3am to make a 564-mile round trip to appear in court for just eight minutes, under the new system.
The problems come after the government awarded the interpreter contract to Applied Language Solutions, which took over on January 30.
Defence solicitors at the court have branded the situation a "farce", a "disaster" and a "tragedy" as some defendants languish in jail due to interpreters failing to turn up for bail hearings.
They said they and court staff have even had to resort to using the internet web service Google Translate to be able to communicate with their clients.
In some cases it has been claimed friends of alleged offenders have had to stand up in court to help explain what is going on to the defendant.
Solicitors and court clerks are growing increasing frustrated over the issue of interpreters failing to attend court or being late because they have travelled from hundreds of miles away.
A vast majority of translators from Suffolk are believed to have refused to work for Applied Language Solutions as it has slashed their fees.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) today admitted there had been problems with the court interpreter system, but claimed the situation has improved.
A spokeswoman said: "There were an unacceptable number of problems in the first weeks of the contract and we asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance."