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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Concern over translation in court by Peterborough magistrates

29 March 2012

Concern over translation in court by Peterborough magistrates
A senior magistrate says putting a private firm in charge of the court translation service is undermining the administration of justice.
Peter Beeke, chairman of Peterborough Magistrates' Court, expressed concerns about Applied Language Solutions (ALS) which took on the service in February.
He highlighted one Cambridge case where the lack of a translator led to the use of Google translate by a court clerk.
ALS said the service was in its early days and was improving.
Mr Beeke, who has been a magistrate for more than 10 years, said he and many of his colleagues at magistrate and crown courts across the region were concerned that problems with providing translators had led to major court delays.

'Wasting court time'
He said before February it would be rare that a case was delayed due to the lack of an interpreter, now this occurred regularly.
"It is wasting court time. In one case in a court in Corby, the case was delayed six times," he said.
"In my own court I'm aware of a trial having to be cancelled."
He said he was also concerned that the lack of interpreters has led to people, without English as their natural language, being kept in custody longer than necessary because the possibility of conditional bail is not properly explained to them.
"I believe, in the interests of justice, these problems need to be sorted out," said Mr Beeke.
Problems with the translation service were also highlighted in Suffolk where it was revealed an interpreter had to make a 560 mile round-trip from Newcastle upon Tyne to Ipswich to assist with a court case lasting less than 10 minutes.

'Period of transition'
The committal hearing at the magistrates court was for a defendant who spoke Vietnamese.
Neil Saunders, the defendant's solicitor, said: "I don't think anyone's come that far before."
The arrangement was made by ALS, which has been supplying interpreters to courts in England and Wales since February.
Courts in England and Wales previously hired freelance interpreters from a national register.
ALS was awarded the contract by the government in an attempt to save £18m from its £60m costs.
A spokeswoman for ALS said: "Inevitably there will be a period of transition as embedded, but inefficient, working practices are changed with the aim of achieving higher quality and more cost effective services.

Bradford Judge demands firm explain after it failed to provide interpreter in case


Bradford Judge demands firm explain after it failed to provide interpreter in case
 A leading Bradford judge is demanding answers after calling a new system’s failure to provide a translator for a vulnerable woman in a violence and sex abuse trial “a disgrace”.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC joined mounting condemnation of Applied Language Solutions (ALS), the company now responsible for providing interpreters across the country.
He said ALS had been spared a wasted costs order for halting the trial only because the defendant changed his pleas to guilty.
Although the company had provided an Urdu interpreter for the defendant, no translator appeared for the young Pakistani woman he was accused of sexually molesting and burning with an iron.
At lunchtime on the second day of the trial, Richard Clews, barrister for the Crown, said witness care staff at Bradford Crown Court had rung ALS to try to find out why no-one had turned up.
The company said someone did go to the court but decided she did not want to interpret for the victim. Mr Clews said no one had made themselves known to staff.
ALS said a translator would be there at 10am on Tuesday, the second day of the trial when the woman was due to start giving her evidence. When no-one turned up, witness care was told another interpreter was coming to Bradford from Newcastle.
Judge Durham Hall told the court: “They have singularly failed to provide an interpreter for the prosecution witness.”
He would have been forced to discharge the jury if the trial had not unexpectedly concluded.
The judge demanded that ALS management write to him in 14 days with “a full and clear explanation” of what went wrong. After receiving the letter, he would consider what action to take, possibly summoning ALS.
Judge Durham Hall said the old scheme, based on local interpreters “worked perfectly well”.
He is the latest in a line of judges and lawyers to hit out at ALS – who were awarded a contract by the Ministry of Justice in a move intended to save £18 million a year – for failing to provide interpreters for court cases.
In Bradford, many defendants, victims and witnesses – predominantly those from Pakistan and Eastern Europe – rely on interpreters to help them.
An ALS spokesman said: “Inevitably, there will be a period of transition as embedded, but inefficient, working practices are changed with the aim of achieving higher quality and more cost effective services.”

--

29 March 2012

Courts need to be clearly understood
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall did not hold back when he criticised failings in the new system to provide translators during court proceedings for both defendants and witnesses, branding one particular instance a ‘disgrace’.
The Bradford judge is quite right to express his concerns so vociferously, particularly as the case in question involved a vulnerable woman who had allegedly been sexually molested and physically assaulted.
His comments are the latest in a series of criticisms by judges and solicitors following the awarding of the contract to provide interpreters to a private company, ALS.
The move was designed to save £18m a year for the Ministry of Justice.
And, as with any change, there have been teething problems as the way the process for translators being provided in court changes.
But the British justice system is renowned around the world for its fairness, and it is vital that vulnerable people who do not speak English are able to understand the proceedings – and, even more importantly, have their voices heard.
In the case that caused Judge Durham Hall concerns, he came close to having to discharge the jury. That would have resulted in cost implications, but even more significantly, it would have increased the trauma to the alleged victim in particular.
As a result, he has demanded a full explanation from ALS.
Hopefully, they will be able to provide a satisfactory one, convincing the judge that this was a relatively rare incident of a type that will be reduced still further as the company beds down.
But it is vital that our legal professionals continue to monitor the issue, which should help to sharpen ALS’s resolve to iron out problems.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Interpreter travels 560 miles for Ipswich court case

28 March 2012

Interpreter travels 560 miles for Ipswich court case
An interpreter has made a 560 mile round-trip from Newcastle upon Tyne to Ipswich to assist with a court case lasting less than 10 minutes.
The committal hearing at the magistrates court was for a defendant who spoke Vietnamese.
Neil Saunders, the defendant's solicitor, said: "I don't think anyone's come that far before."
The Ministry of Justice said it was committed to "safeguarding" the needs of those requiring an interpreter.
Mr Saunders said the committal hearing lasted eight minutes and for three previous hearings, no interpreter had been available.
'Raised eyebrows'
He said the female interpreter told him she was paid £20 plus travel expenses.
"She said they couldn't get any others, but that could be down to the fact that they don't pay any others enough, and so she left home at 3 o'clock in the morning," he said.
"They come from London all the time, but this one is a record that's got to stand for a while and raised eyebrows is a polite way of putting it.
"It is a matter of the government trying to save money."
The arrangement was made by Applied Language Solutions (ALS), which has been supplying interpreters to courts in England and Wales since February.
Courts in England and Wales previously hired freelance interpreters from a national register.
ALS was awarded the contract by the government in an attempt to save £18m from its £60m costs.
Online translation
Another Ipswich-based lawyer, Dino Barricella, said he used a website to translate for one of his clients who was without a translator.
"I had to use Google to translate bail conditions," he said. "But later someone looked at it and said it was all back to front.
"It might give you the gist, but you can't rely on it."
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson admitted that there had been an "unacceptable number of problems in the first weeks of the contract".
"We have asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance," the spokesperson said.
"We remain committed to ensuring the rights and needs of those who require interpreters are safeguarded as well as ensuring value for tax-payers across the justice system, and will continue to monitor the system on a daily basis."
A spokesperson for ALS said it did not pass on the cost of sourcing and placing an interpreter from another part of the country on to the court.
"We only charge the court for the time that the interpreter is at the court, which is set at a minimum rate of one hour," said the spokesperson.
This, the spokesperson said, was an improvement on the previous system which paid interpreters for a minimum of three hours.

Court translator travels 560 miles for just eight minutes

A translator was forced to make a 900 km (500-mile) round trip to appear in court for just eight minutes under a “farcical” new system designed to save cash.
The Vietnamese speaker had to leave Newcastle at 3 am for a five-hour journey to a hearing at magistrates’ court in Suffolk.
The case last week highlights the chaos under a “disastrous” new system that has led to cancelled hearings, wasted time and spiralling costs, say lawyers.
They claim problems started after translation services were outsourced to Applied Language Solutions in January in a move to save Whitehall £18 million a year.
Many staff have refused to sign up under reduced pay terms – leaving foreign defendants without a proper hearing or forcing them to remain in custody at taxpayer expense because they cannot understand a bail hearing.
Solicitor Neil Saunders said: “Farcical is not the right word. It’s actually a tragedy. Whilst justice must be blind, it should not be mute.” Lawyer Andrew Cleal said he had been forced to ask Romanian clients to bring a friend to interpret and has even turned up to Google Translate for help.
He said: “It makes me very angry to see everybody – solicitors and court staff – having to work exceptionally hard to deal with what I believe is a Ministry of Justice cock-up. The whole thing is a disaster.
“It’s a fundamental human right that you are allowed to be tried in court in prompt time, without delay, and being able to understand the proceedings against you.”
A survey by legal newsletter CrimeLine found translators failed to turn up in more than half of cases between March 12 and 16.
The Ministry of Justice said there were “unacceptable” problems with the system but claimed it has improved.
Applied Language Solutions said it was now honouring most court bookings and a spokeswoman said “more interpreters are singing up daily”.

Metro, page 25, 28 March 2012

Court interpreter travels 564 miles for EIGHT minutes’ work

28 Mar 2012

Lost in translation: Court interpreter travels 564 miles for EIGHT minutes’ work
The Vietnamese linguistics expert left Newcastle at 3am and spent four-and-a-half hours travelling to Ipswich magistrates court
Solicitors hit out at the Ministry of Justice yesterday after a court interpreter travelled 564 miles for eight minutes’ work.
The Vietnamese linguistics expert left Newcastle at 3am on a train and spent four-and-a-half hours travelling to Ipswich magistrates court.
The defendant’s previous translator did not turn up four times before.
Neil Saunders, the defence lawyer in the case, said: “People are not being represented. They do not know what is going on in an alien environment.
"In my experience, the system is unreliable as interpreters don’t turn up.”
His claims were backed by a survey of 400 lawyers by legal training firm CrimeLine, which found 56% of translators fail to turn up at court.
It is claimed many mistakes came after Applied Language Solutions took on the MoJ’s court interpreter contract in January, saving £18million a year.
The MoJ said: “Most appointments are met. We are monitoring this.”

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Court staff forced to rely on Google Translate

27 Mar 2012

Court staff forced to rely on Google Translate
Court staff and lawyers have been forced to use Google Translate to communicate with non-English speaking defendants because of problems with the new interpreter service, it has been claimed.
One translator was also forced to get up a 3am to make a 564-mile round trip to appear in court for just eight minutes, under the new system.
The problems come after the government awarded the interpreter contract to Applied Language Solutions, which took over on January 30.
Defence solicitors at the court have branded the situation a "farce", a "disaster" and a "tragedy" as some defendants languish in jail due to interpreters failing to turn up for bail hearings.
They said they and court staff have even had to resort to using the internet web service Google Translate to be able to communicate with their clients.
In some cases it has been claimed friends of alleged offenders have had to stand up in court to help explain what is going on to the defendant.
Solicitors and court clerks are growing increasing frustrated over the issue of interpreters failing to attend court or being late because they have travelled from hundreds of miles away.
A vast majority of translators from Suffolk are believed to have refused to work for Applied Language Solutions as it has slashed their fees.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) today admitted there had been problems with the court interpreter system, but claimed the situation has improved.
A spokeswoman said: "There were an unacceptable number of problems in the first weeks of the contract and we asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance."

It’s a farce! Fed-up defence solicitors blast court interpreter system

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich_it_s_a_farce_fed_up_defence_solicitors_blast_court_interpreter_system_after_translator_has_to_travel_from_newcastle_to_ipswich_for_hearing_1_1331803

Ipswich: It’s a farce! Fed-up defence solicitors blast court interpreter system after translator has to travel from NEWCASTLE to Ipswich for hearing
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
By Colin Adwent, crime correspondent

IPSWICH: Furious solicitors today branded a new court case interpreter system as farcical after a translator made a 564-mile round trip for an eight-minute court hearing.
The Vietnamese interpreter had to get up at around 3am to catch a train from Newcastle to Peterborough, before changing trains to Ipswich, in order to be at the town’s South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court by 10am.
The journey to Suffolk took four-and-a-half hours and is said to typify what is claimed to be a haphazard and chaotic system.
Defence solicitors at the Ipswich court have labelled the situation as a “farce”, a “disaster” and a “tragedy”, claiming some clients languish in jail due to interpreters failing to turn up for potential bail hearings.
The lawyers said they and court staff have even had to resort to using the internet web service Google Translate to be able to communicate with their clients. In some cases it has been claimed friends of the defendants have had to stand up in court to help explain what is going on to the defendant.
Solicitors and clerks say they are growing increasing frustrated over the issue of interpreters allegedly failing to attend court or being late because they have travelled from many miles away.
The situation said to have arisen after the government awarded the interpreter contract to Applied Language Solutions, which took over on January 30. A vast majority of translators from Suffolk are believed to have refused to work for the company as they say it has slashed their fees.
In the case of the interpreter from Newcastle, defendant Phuong Van Duong, who is accused of the production of cannabis, his solicitor says he had not been able to understand what was happening in court on four previous occasions as no translator had turned up.
His solicitor, Neil Saunders, said:
“Farcical is not the right word. It’s actually a tragedy.
“Whilst justice must be blind, it should not be mute. People are not being represented.”
The hearing began at 10.43am and finished at 10.51am, leaving the interpreter to face the long return trip home.
A Lithuanian interpreter was also at court on the same day.
She had travelled from London to help two alleged Ipswich shoplifters.
The third case requiring a translator that day involved a Chinese woman living in Bramford, who was accused of actual bodily harm.
No interpreter was able to be at the court, so her solicitor Dino Barricella told officials he had to resort to getting his secretary to use Google Translate to explain what the hearing was about.
Mr Barricella said: “It’s a complete farce. People will remain in custody, because we as solicitors can not take instructions and therefore are not able to put forward bail applications.”
Andrew Cleal, of Oslers in Stowmarket, added: “It makes me very angry to see everybody – solicitors and court staff – having to work exceptionally hard to deal with what I believe is a Ministry of Justice cock-up. The whole thing is a disaster.”

PQ - 27th March 2012


27 Mar 2012
Courts: Translation Services
Justice

David Davies (Monmouth, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many court cases have been delayed in the last 12 months as a result of Applied Language Solutions not providing an interpreter.

Jonathan Djanogly (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (HM Courts Service and Legal Aid), Justice; Huntingdon, Conservative)
The contract with Applied Language Services was introduced in criminal courts in the north west in December 2011 and was implemented across the rest of HMCTS on 30 January 2012. No figures are available on the number of court cases delayed as result of problems with interpreters.

Monday, 26 March 2012

PQ - 26th March 2012


26 Mar 2012
Justice: Interpreting and Translation Services
House of Lords

Baroness Coussins (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the interpreters registered with Applied Language Solutions to provide services under the framework agreement for the criminal justice system are unqualified or unvetted.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of representations from the Association of Police and Court Interpreters and the Society for Public Service Interpreting that they could achieve savings in expenditure by the criminal justice system on interpreting and translating of 40% per annum.

Lord McNally (Minister of State, Justice; Liberal Democrat)
(1) We have seen no evidence of unqualified or unvetted interpreters being assigned by ALS to provide services under the framework. The contractor is obliged to ensure that the interpreters they use have appropriate qualifications, skills, experience and are appropriately vetted. Should any concerns or complaints arise about the quality, qualifications or background of individual interpreters there is a robust complaints mechanism.
(2) It was open to any organisation to express an interest in taking part in the procurement exercise for language services in the justice sector. The procurement exercise was well publicised but no formal expression was received from the Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) or Society for Public Service Interpreting. APCI did, however, present an alternative strategy in December 2011 outside of the procurement process which did not indicate any set level of savings. The Ministry of Justice remains determined to ensure that taxpayers get value for money and this new contract will save the MoJ at least £12 million a year on the cost of interpretation and translation, a saving of 40% on current expenditure in this area, but will ensure that high quality interpreters and translators are still available to those in need.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

In praise of... judicial interpreters

Editorial
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 25 March 2012

In praise of … judicial interpreters
The professionals who ensure non-English speakers can get justice in our courts deserve better
The job of a judicial interpreter is not easy. Late-night summonses to police stations are commonplace. The person you are dealing with may be distressed, or violent. You may have to spend hours on your feet in the courtroom during a cross-examination. If a defendant has a low opinion of proceedings, the judge hears it from you. Payments are piecemeal and often delayed. Nonetheless, most court interpreters found the job satisfying – until the Ministry of Justice identified £18m in potential savings and gave Applied Language Solutions (recently bought by Capita) a contract to provide interpreters to English and Welsh courts. Now pay has fallen from £30 an hour plus travel expenses to between £16 and £22, with no expenses for the first hour. Hundreds of interpreters have boycotted the arrangement, resulting in costly adjournments. The professionals who ensure non-English speakers can get justice in our courts deserve better.

New courts service lost in translation

25/03/2012

New courts service lost in translation
A judge has slammed the Government’s new interpreting service after a case had to be adjourned twice when a translator did not turn up.
At Luton Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Martin Griffith explained how this was the third occasion in three weeks the Romanian defendant had been brought to court - and this week’s hearing was the only time an interpreter had turned up.
He was told by prosecutor Geoffrey Porter that Applied Language Solutions (ALS) linguist Florina Graham was, in fact, late that day as well - arriving at 2.30pm when she was required to be at court before 2pm.
ALS won a £60 million Ministry of Justice contract that begun on January 31 to provide linguistic services across the courts and is supposed to save taxpayers’ money.
Judge Griffith said: “There appears to be a contract that the Government has signed for the provision of translation services. I will be interested to know how much we have wasted by turning up three times.
“My understanding is that this hearing will be put on a website with an open invitation for any interpreter to do it. We need to get an answer as to why no one is turning up. Clearly something is wrong with the system.
“I think someone from ALS should come along and explain how it is that this system is supposed to work.
“The defendant has been here twice and there is nobody here who can tell him what is going on. He is told ‘I’m sorry you are going back to prison for another week’. Luckily once before a barrister was here who could speak Romanian. That was a Godsend but we can’t rely on that.”
Each time a court case is delayed an extra cost is incurred to the taxpayer, through the Judge, Magistrate, legal representatives having to go to court more, court staff having to contact ALS, costs for ALS at the next hearing and also there is additional expense in keeping defendants in custody for longer than may be necessary.
Alan Thompson, secretary of the Association of Police and Court Interpreters, said: “The MoJ claimed that this contract would produce savings of £18 million per year; eight weeks after nationwide roll-out this has been shown to be false, and this figure has been dwarfed by the increased costs of delays, adjournments and abandoned trials.
The award of the contract was a sad day for British Justice and a very expensive one for the British taxpayer.” An MOJ spokesman said: “There was an unacceptable number of problems in the first weeks of the contract and we asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance.
“They have put measures in place to resolve these issues and we have already seen a marked improvement.” An ALS spokeswoman added: “The MoJ awarded the contract to fundamentally address the weaknesses, lack of transparency and disproportionate costs of the previous service.
"Inevitably there will be a period of transition as embedded, but inefficient, working practices are changed with the aim of achieving higher quality and more cost effective services.”
In January, ALS linguist Mrs Graham hit the headlines when she won £250 in damages at the High Court when Thames Valley Police admitted they had carried out an unlawful search of her home in 2008 after she was arrested for harassment.
Mrs Graham was given a ‘first harassment warning’ in 2009 after sending a police inspector at West Mercia Police a series of suggestive messages in 2008.
She was removed from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters as a result.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Court chaos as interpreter service goes private

23 March 2012

Court chaos as interpreter service goes private
Channel 4 News has evidence of a series of failures in Britain's privatised court interpretation services, including claims that unqualified translators are being sent to cover criminal court cases.
Every single day, in courts across the country, professional interpreters help to translate proceedings for defendants, witnesses and victims. They take pride in their work - or at least, they used to.
At the beginning of February, the Ministry of Justice privatised the system of booking interpreters across the criminal justice system. It awarded a lucrative contract, worth £300m, to a relatively small company from Oldham called Applied Language Solutions (ALS). The contract was supposed to save £18m a year - but critics say it's already costing that much.
Professional interpreters say Britain's reputation as having the fairest legal system in the world is being undermined by privatisation. ALS have cut the rates of pay offered to professional interpreters, and as a result many are boycotting the company. It's claimed that as a result, the company is struggling to recruit enough translators.

Desperate measures
We've travelled to courts across the country and heard of cases having to be adjourned and even dismissed every single day, when ALS interpreters fail to turn up. Many court clerks have told us they aren't even given notice.
In some cases, the clerks have to resort to desperate measures. "The clerk had to go online and use Google translate to explain the bail conditions because the ALS interpreter didn't turn up. That's just not right."
Peter Beeke is chair of the magistrates court in Peterborough - he told me that people's lives are being affected by the failures of the courts contract.
"I'm seriously worried about the quality of justice being meted out," he said. "I'm particularly worried that people on relatively minor theft matters are being held in custody unnecessarily.
"Everybody is entitled to bail in this country, provided they meet certain conditions. But we're having to deny it just because interpreters haven't turned up.
"If they were English speakers they'd be treated differently."

Children deprived of care
Channel 4 News has learnt that a number of these defendants are now considering civil action against the MoJ after being held in custody unnecessarily, when ALS interpreters failed to turn up.
Dhaneshwar Sharma represents a mother of three who had to be remanded into to prison for the theft of a mobile phone - a first-time offence that wouldn't normally result in remand.
"On the first two hearings, the ALS interpreter simply didn't turn up," she told Channel 4 News. "It was only on the third day they turned up and she was granted bail.
"But in those three days, we had a mother being held in prison and her three young children deprived of her care."
Mr Sharma's client is now considering civil action - and the solicitor himself has applied for an order against ALS for wasted time costs. Mr Sharma told us he believes there will be other cases to follow.

Visualising Ferraris
Applied Language Solutions was set up by businessman Gavin Wheeldon. He once appeared on the documentary Secret Millionaire, boasting that he liked to start each day by visualising his goals in a self-motivating power-point presentation. "It's one thing to say I want a Ferrari… but another to actually visualise it."
But interpreters hired by Mr Wheeldon's company say there's no chance of them ever owning a Ferrari under the terms and conditions offered by ALS.
Mr Wheeldon won the lucrative MoJ contract by promising to slash costs for employees, reducing the rate of pay offered to professional interpreters - but soon found that qualified translators were boycotting his company.
We understand that the company is still struggling to recruit enough people, and we've heard worrying claims that unqualified interpreters are being sent to court.
We spoke exclusively to an interpreter who had never been inside a British courtroom and yet was given three cases to translate. He admits he didn't even know the dress code and was extremely daunted.

'I'd never been inside a British courtroom before.'
In an extraordinary interview, an interpreter was telling me how he was sent to cover three criminal court cases, despite not having enough experience. "I didn't feel confident. I didn't even know the dress code," he said.
He didn't want to be identified, and it soon became clear why. A professional man, with many years' experience in the public sector, he applied to ALS after being made redundant.
"I needed the money, and thought I'd give them a go." He filled in an online application, and had to complete two tests. Although he is fluent in many languages, he has never worked in a courtroom. Interpreting legal language is a very specialist skill. Even native English speakers can struggle to understand the jargon.
Given his lack of experience, he should never have been given jobs in court, according to ALS's own agreement with the government. The interpreter was not aware of this rule, yet was still surprised when he was given three cases to work on. "I was surprised, yes. I thought they should have had stricter procedures. I was given a burglary and a remand hearing."
I asked him what kind of support and guidance he was given by ALS before he was sent to court. "I was given the address of the court. And told it was a remand hearing. That was it."
As soon as he got into court, he said he felt daunted, not knowing even where to sit, how to address the barristers or judges. In addition, he couldn't actually see or hear the defendant very well from where he was sitting. "I had to stop the proceedings and explain to the judge that I couldn't hear the proceedings very well."
Luckily, our interviewee was confident enough to admit his concerns to the judge. He was moved so that he could be nearer the defendant, the proceedings were slowed down, and he says he managed to get through the hearing.
He has since decided not to accept any more court jobs. But others may not be as consciousness. We've heard worrying claims that his story is by no means a one off. Solicitors have told us of interpreters turning up with only an Oyster Card as identification; of another turning up in builder's overalls and a hard hat.

Rabbit interpreter
Channel 4 News has heard of a number of similar stories - a situation so farcical that one interpreter claims she even managed to get her pet rabbit registered with ALS.
Czech interpreter Marie Adamova says she successfully filled in an online application for carrot-chomping Jajo. "He's officially listed as being available to work in courts and police station."
Ms Adamova turned up in a huge rabbit outfit at a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice.
ALS told us they couldn't find the rabbit on their system. The company told us: "All our translators are qualified to at least the minimum standards required to provide services to the criminal Justice system. Official feedback from the courts suggest there is only a very small number of cases where interpreters do not turn up."
The Moj says ALS won the contract because it put forward the best bid and had demonstrated an ability to deliver.

Police contracts
And yet Channel 4 News has learnt that there were warning signs about the company's performance three years ago. In 2009, ALS began signing contracts with six police forces across the north west, including Cheshire and Grater Manchester, to provide interpreters for suspects held in police stations. Yet it's claimed there were numerous problems.
The Liberal Democrat MP John Leech believes the company's track record should have acted as a warning. He says he raised his concerns with the MoJ, but these concerns were ignored.
"One particular example I remember: they'd sent a Slovak speaker instead of a Czech speaker, for instance."
On hearing ALS had won the contract, he said: "I was amazed, frankly. It's ludicrous that they won the contract for the MoJ, and the MoJ were warned."

Call to scrap courts contract
And it wasn't just the police contracts. ALS also won contracts with a number of NHS trusts, including Dudley. We've seen the minutes of a meeting in which concerns were raised with the company about the quality of the service - complaints were made about the English language skills of interpreters and the translation of medical terminology. The trust told us that services have since improved. But Mr Leech and others are now calling on the government to scrap the courts contract.
In response to our investigation, ALS told us -
"There have always been some cases which have been held back and suspects detained longer... because of a lack of available interpreters at a specific time. Inevitably there will be a period of transition as embedded, but inefficient, working practices are changed.
"The contract began less than two months ago, we are fulfilling the vast majority of bookings (nearly 3,000 a week) and have 2,000 experienced and qualified linguists actively working within the system. More interpreters are signing up daily."
The MoJ has shown no indications it will cancel the courts contract, despite growing criticism, but it is considering whether to impose contractual penalties. Until things improve, however, critics fear the chaos will continue - and that many more lives, dependent on the professionalism of court interpreters, may be affected.