9 August 2012
MP Calling for Urgent Investigation into Court Interpreters Contract
The news that interpreters from a private company are working in the courts without the required criminal record checks has been met with incredulity by Bassetlaw MP, John Mann.
Private company, Applied Language Service (ALS), took over the £300m contract earlier this year and has since faced criticism from judges, politicians and lawyers for the poor quality of its interpreters.
Since ALS took over at the beginning of February, solicitors, translators and magistrates across England and Wales have reported numerous cases of interpreters failing to attend, not speaking the right language and not accurately translating proceedings.
Before John Mann became an MP he was involved in running an interpretation service and won government and international contracts requiring high quality interpreters with a commitment to confidentiality and sensitivity. He said “In my previous life I was involved in organising interpreters who were negotiating highly sensitive contracts and agreements at government and senior management levels. High standards, high quality and confidentiality were absolutely critical to the work we did. It therefore concerns me that cost cutting measures by Justice Minister, Ken Clarke has forced standards down and introduced risks. Without proper vetting or controls anyone can walk off the street and become an interpreter. This has undermined the security of our courts and the ongoing justice implications are immense”.
Mann is calling for the Justice Select Committee to urgently investigate the ALS contract saying “this is a disaster in the making, we cannot have poor quality interpreters without the proper CRB checks in our legal services. The Justice Select Committee should begin an immediate inquiry and I will be happy to give evidence on my experience of maintaining interpretation high standards”.