March 16, 2012
Fighting privatisation of court interpreting
Unite public service interpreters demonstrate outside the MoJ and Parliament, demanding the reversal of the privatisation of court interpreting, as service descends ‘into chaos’
The NUPIT Branch of Unite has joined forces with five other professional interpreting organisations to fight to get the service brought back in-house as the privatisation of the court and tribunal interpreting service is hampering the justice system for those that don’t have English as their first language.
Delays in court appearances have soared as the majority of registered interpreters are refusing to work for a cost-cutting subsidiary of the controversial outsourcing company, Capita. The contract was awarded to Applied Language Solutions (ALS) who just weeks later was bought out by Capita. 90% of registered public service interpreters have refused to sign up to the privatised contractor, because of their concerns about the interests of justice, pay cuts and the imposition of unfavourable terms and conditions.
The courts’ system is descending into chaos, as suspects are not being informed of their rights and defendants are unable to instruct their barristers. Collapsed trials and miscarriages are on the cards.
One interpreter, wanting to expose the 'ridiculous failings' of this new system enrolled her pet rabbit 'Jajo' as a court interpreter. And to demonstrate ALS aren't checking the qualifications of people who enrol - the rabbit later received emails from the firm welcoming him aboard as a translator- and he was even invited to an online seminar to learn more about his role! Interpreters who can barely translate a few sentences - let alone legal language - are being sent to court, resulting in costly delays. Judges are considering awarding costs against the privatised firm in cases where they fail to supply a qualified interpreter and cases are delayed.
The cost of this outsourced shambles will, in the end, far outweigh any possible financial savings.