March 16, 2012
War of words as interpreters blast court translation firm Applied Language Solutions
Angry court interpreters have created a dossier of claims against the firm put in charge of the service.
Applied Language Solutions (ALS) began the contract for providing translators to all English and Welsh courts last month. But experienced interpreters – who previously translated for witnesses and defendants who don’t speak English – are now refusing to work for the company after their pay was cut.
Hundreds of translators protested outside the Commons over the company’s ‘monopoly’, which they say will force them to work for less or abandon their jobs. The protest group Interpreters for Justice says that courts should return to using registered freelancers instead of going via a single agency.
And in a report they claim that mistakes by ALS - based in Delph, near Oldham - have led to dozens of cancellations, delays and adjournments – including at least nine cases in Greater Manchester courts. The report – commissioned by professional groups which represent translators – lists 150 problems which it claims were all linked to ALS translators. They include numerous delays at Oldham and Manchester magistrates’ courts when translators did not attend as expected.
Central Manchester MP Tony Lloyd said he was concerned about the scale of the problem. He said: "The government has not thought this through and have rolled it out to a single private company without thinking of the consequences."