25 October 2012 by Catherine Baksi
Court interpreter mess ‘led to custody’, MPs told
Defendants are being remanded in custody solely because court interpreters have not been sent by the company contracted by the Ministry of Justice to provide them, a parliamentary committee heard this week.
Giving evidence to the Justice Committee, the chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee Richard Atkinson (pictured) said arrangements for providing court interpreters had got ‘worse not better’ since the contract with Applied Language Solutions, now Capita Translating and Interpreting, began in February.
Conservative committee member Robert Buckland said that the data shows 182 ineffective trials in the first quarter of the year under the new contract and that the trend is worsening.
Atkinson gave examples of a trial at Leicester Crown Court which was delayed for a day due to the lack of an Albanian interpreter, and a defendant with no previous convictions who was remanded in custody on three occasions because a court was unable to deal with bail without an interpreter.
He said that the failures were financially damaging to the criminal justice system, but added: ‘The greatest indictment on the contract is that people are remanded in custody solely due to a lack of interpreter.’
The committee has urged the judiciary, magistrates, lawyers and others with direct experience of problems to let it know of their experiences. Comments can be submitted until 2 November.