31 Jan 2011
Interpretation and Translation Services
Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 15 September 2010, Official Report, columns 46-47WS, on interpretation and translation services (justice sector),
(1) what steps he plans to take to maintain the quality of translation and interpretation services for defendants under his proposals;
(2) what progress has been made on the procurement of translation and interpretation services for defendants under his proposals;
(3) what estimate he has made of the likely cost saving to his Department of implementation of the proposed changes in each of the next three years;
(4) whether he has consulted (a) the National Register of Public Service Interpreters and (b) the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people on the proposed changes to procurement of translation and interpretation services for defendants;
(5) what qualifications translators and interpreters for defendants will be required to hold under his proposals;
(6) whether he consulted (a) police forces, (b) HM Courts Service, (c) the National Offender Management Service and (d) the Crown Prosecution Service on his proposed changes to procurement of translation and interpretation services for defendants.
Crispin Blunt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Prisons and Probation), Justice; Reigate, Conservative)
The project to review the provision of interpretation and translation services was begun under the previous administration which, like the present Government, recognised that there was room for improvement in the existing arrangements.
My officials are now in the final stages of a competitive dialogue procurement process with shortlisted bidders. When the process is at an end Ministers will make a decision whether or not to let a framework arrangement.
We have made it clear throughout that quality must be maintained. Any framework arrangement would specify quality standards. Key performance indicators would be used to ensure that a supplier met their contractual obligations. The qualifications to be required of interpreters and translators are currently being finalised.
Annual spend on interpretation and translation services across the criminal and civil justice sectors is estimated to be around £60million. If we were to let a framework arrangement we would hope to see savings of at least 10%.
Last summer my officials wrote to a wide range of stakeholders including the National Register of Public Service Interpreters and also Signature (who administer the National Register of Communication Professionals working with deaf and deafblind people) to inform them of our plans and to seek their comments.
This work is being taken forward by a project board which includes representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the National Policing Improvement Agency, HM Court Service, the Tribunal Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Offender Management Service.