Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Justice for Sale: Chaos in the Courts

April 17, 2012 by Aisha Maniar

Justice for Sale: Chaos in the Courts
[…] Since the new arrangement and the boycott by many interpreters, many have suffered a loss of income and others are finding it more expensive to work than not to. Following multiple failings in the system and complaints, in mid-February, courts and the police were allowed to find their own interpreters instead of having to rely on the new system, i.e. revert to the old system which worked quite well. Crispin Blunt MP, a justice minister, has since admitted that there are failings in the new system, but these have largely been put down to teething problems.
A protest was held in London on Monday 16 April to greet MPs returning from their Easter break. An initial protest, largely consisting of interpreters from all over the UK, particularly the northwest, converged outside the Ministry of Justice at 2-3.30pm, and later outside Parliament from 3.30-5pm. Over 200 people joined the demonstration.
Outside the MoJ, protesters were joined by Andy Slaughter MP (Lab: Hammersmith), a shadow Justice Minister, who has supported the interpreters' concerns throughout. Outside Parliament, they were joined by MPs Jim Cunningham (Lab: Coventry South) who asked interpreters to write to the chair of the Justice Select Committee to demand an inquiry. He also asked people to write to their MPs so that the relevant questions can be put to ministers in the Commons, and Gerald Kaufman (Lab: Manchester, Gorton). Mr Kaufman expressed his continuing support and said that he and Mr Slaughter had asked for an inquiry.
As well as a public inquiry into what has gone wrong in the procurement procedure, which would undoubtedly be of use to all services which are outsourced, interpreters are seeking that the framework agreement, which is due to be reviewed at the end of this month, is terminated early.
Various interpreters expressed their concerns and disgust and Yvonne Fowler, speaking on behalf of Birmingham criminal solicitor Malcolm Fowler, stated that this was "outsourcing interpreting to a commercial monopoly [...which] exists to exploit the expertise and professionalism of interpreters for personal gain and profit". […]


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