15 Mar 2012
Privatisation of court interpreting "had problems", admits Justice Minister
The decision to award Applied Language Solutions (ALS) the contract for court interpreting was met with criticism from professional bodies, with many qualified interpreters refusing to sign up over a drop in pay and conditions.
Earlier this month, it was reported that a shortage of interpreters had meant foreign suspects had walked free because police were unable to get translators.
Interpreters were expected to demonstrate against the new contract outside the House of Commons this morning followed by a protest outside the Ministry of Justice.
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."
More than 1,000 protesters were expected to turn out in London today.
Geoffrey Buckingham, of the Association of Police and Court Interpreters, said: “The reason that many of those affected have taken this decision to demonstrate is that they are serious about justice and adamant that the flawed Framework Agreement put in place by the Ministry of Justice should be scrapped.
"The Ministry of Justice did not consult properly with professional interpreters associations and we are calling into question how the contract was awarded to ALS."