26 April 2012 by Catherine Baksi
Court interpreter situation 'improving'
Large numbers of court hearings are still being hit by interpreter problems nearly three months after new contracting arrangements began - but the situation has improved, new figures indicate.
An online survey completed by 80 lawyers and judges shows that between 16-20 April, four in 10 cases requiring an interpreter were disrupted because an interpreter failed to turn up. This was an improvement from 12-16 March, when the same survey, conducted by education and training provider CrimeLine, showed that interpreters failed to attend in 56% of cases.
Several courts have listed hearings to consider wasted costs applications against contractor Applied Language Solutions (ALS), but a spokeswoman for the company said no such orders have been made to date.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that ALS discussed different strategies for implementing its service before agreeing on a national rollout. Speaking at a demonstration by interpreters boycotting the company, shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter alleged that ALS had said it ‘didn’t want the contract to be rolled out across the country’.
An ALS spokeswoman said: ‘Various rollout plans were discussed throughout the process and ultimately a national one was agreed to be the best solution.’