15 March 2012
Privatisation of court interpretation services is causing problems, admits justice minister Crispin Blunt
Justice Minister Crispin Blunt admitted today there had been "problems" with the recent privatisation of court interpretation services but insisted the situation was "rapidly improving".
There have been complaints from interpreters that they are facing worse pay and conditions under the new private contract with Applied Language Solutions (ALS).
Since the new system began on February 1, proceedings have been held up by the failure of interpreters to turn up or demonstrate the necessary competence in court, it has been claimed.
David Evans, chairman of the Lincolnshire branch of the Magistrates' Association, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I've heard words like 'disaster' and 'chaos' used and I don't think they are too strong at the moment.
"The contract's been up and running now since February 1 - surely that's time for a large company to get its act together."
Mr Blunt told Today that ALS was "the best" company to apply for the contract and had since been taken over by professional services firm Capita and so had "substantial resources behind them to make sure this works".