About us

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Written transcript of the Justice Committee hearing - 23rd October 2012

Written transcript of the Justice committee hearing into the MOJ/Capita’s interpreting contract on Tuesday 23rd October: 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/uc645-i/uc64501.htm

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/uc645-i/uc645i.pdf


ALS founder blames ‘intimidation’ for court interpreter debacle

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/als-founder-blames-intimidation-court-interpreter-debacle 
30 October 2012 by Catherine Baksi 

ALS founder blames ‘intimidation’ for court interpreter debacle 
The founder of the company at the centre of the court interpreting debacle today blamed ‘intimidation’ and ‘quite horrendous’ threats by interpreters boycotting his company for its failure to meet targets.
Gavin Wheeldon, former chief executive of Applied Language Solutions, told the House of Commons justice committee that ‘there was an awful lot of intimidation around this contract – strong encouragement not to do the work [for Applied]… There's been interpreters who've been spat on, been threatened - the things that went on were quite horrendous.’
Wheeldon (pictured far left) said resistance to the new arrangements, coupled with a lack of management information from the Ministry of Justice, led to a performance that was ‘far from satisfactory’.
Organisations representing interpreters strongly denied the claim. Madeleine Lee, director of the Professional Interpreters Alliance, said: 'We are categorically unaware of such incidents, and will ask the justice committee to request evidence to support them.' Geoffrey Buckingham, chairman of the Association of Police and Court Interpreters, said he had ‘never seen any evidence’ of threats. ‘Obviously we would strongly condemn any such behaviour.’
During the hearing Wheeldon denied that Applied had misled the MoJ over its capacity to fulfil the contract or that it had failed to disclose problems in the assessment or validation of interpreters. Wheeldon said that his company had put together ‘detailed project plans’ but a lack of information from the MoJ meant it could only make ‘assumptions’ about demand for services.
Wheeldon pocketed the lion’s share of £6m when he sold Applied, to the services giant Capita a few weeks after winning the MoJ contract in August 2011. The company is now called Capita Translation and Interpreting.
Earlier this week, Capita’s chief operating officer Andy Parker told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that the company was ‘in material breach’ at the start of the contract and was issued with a formal notice to improve by the MoJ.
He said he did not believe that the company is still in material breach, but the committee heard that the service is being delivered in breach of contractual obligations in the absence of mechanisms to assess and monitor the standard of interpreters used.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP said was is ‘a bit scary’ that six months into the contract there is no way of making sure that the quality of interpreters is appropriate to ensure the proper administration of justice.


PQ - 30 October 2012

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2012-10-30a.125590.h 

30 October 2012 
Magistrates’ Courts: Translation Services
Justice

Nick de Bois (Enfield North, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost was of providing translation services in magistrates courts in (a) London and (b) England in each of the last five years. 
Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)
Information on the cost of translation in the magistrate's courts was not collected separately prior to 30 January 2012. However we estimate that the cost of services to the Department was approximately £30 million, including all criminal and civil courts and tribunals. The lack of visibility of the amounts spent in this area was one of the factors which led the Department to make a change to the way these services are sourced. This information will be more readily available in the future.


Applied Language Solutions boss Gavin Wheeldon blames interpreters for company's failures

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/applied-language-solutions-boss-gavin-wheeldon-blames-interpreters-for-companys-failures-8258986.html 
30 October 2012 

Applied Language Solutions boss Gavin Wheeldon blames interpreters for company's failures 
The former boss of a company lambasted over the way it ran a lucrative contract for providing court translation blamed interpreters for failures in the service.
Gavin Wheeldon claimed translators resistant to new working conditions "assaulted and spat at" colleagues to intimidate them into turning work down.
The former CEO of Applied Language Solutions admitted he knew there would be "problems" with the contract to provide court interpreters across England and Wales before the system was introduced in January and admitted his company had relied on "extrapolated" figures to draw up its plans.
But he accused interpreters, unhappy with dramatic pay cuts under the new contract, of big gaps in provision.
In the month after the five-year deal, which has since been taken over by Capita, began the company only fulfilled 65% of service requests and over the first quarter faced 2,232 complaints.
Mr Wheeldon told the Justice Select Committee: "The main issue was the level of interpreters that were agreeing to work for us. There was an awful lot of intimidation around this contract and strong encouragement for interpreters not to do the work even where they had registered or even taken some assignments and then decided not to work.
"I think there's plenty of police reports of interpreters that have reported these incidents to the police. There have been interpreters that have worked for us that have been assaulted, been spat on, been threatened. The list of things that went on were quite horrendous.
"Honestly, I think if we had not seen the level of resistance we had seen in interpreters I think the other issues, which were probably much smaller, would have been the teething problems of any contract."
Mr Wheeldon said the company extrapolated figures because there was a "serious lack of management information" from the court service about its needs.
"None of the courts really recorded any information at all so all we were able to do was use what was available from certain parts like the tribunals and try and extrapolate out what we thought it would look like across the court system," he said.
Asked by committee chairman Sir Alan Beith whether the company knew it was "flying blind" Mr Wheeldon replied: "Obviously we pushed and tried to get as much management information as we could but if it just doesn't exist there is very little you can do to make it appear.
"Once we got into the contract and were able to look at some of the management information it obviously provided a lot of insight that had we known prior would have allowed for better planning."
The new system has been accused of leading to courtroom chaos following complaints about proceedings being held up or collapsing because interpreters have failed to show up on time or have the necessary competence.
MPs were told the cost of an ineffective magistrates' court case was around £650 while the bill for crown court was £1,500.
Justice minister Helen Grant, who worked as a family lawyer for 20 years, said: "We are going to have to work creatively and carefully and cleverly to get this to the standard we all want.
"My honest opinion is that it's considerably better than it was in February.
Complaints have dropped, performance has gone up and the National Audit Office has recommended that we fully implement the contract."


Boss of Applied Language Solutions blames interpreters for failures

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1592494_boss-of-applied-language-solutions-blames-interpreters-for-failures 
October 30, 2012 

Boss of Applied Language Solutions blames interpreters for failures 
The former boss of a company lambasted over the way it ran a lucrative contract for providing court translation blamed interpreters for failures in the service.
Gavin Wheeldon claimed translators resistant to new working conditions 'assaulted and spat at' colleagues to intimidate them into turning work down.
The former CEO of Applied Language Solutions admitted he knew there would be "problems" with the contract to provide court interpreters across England and Wales before the system was introduced in January and admitted his company had relied on "extrapolated" figures to draw up its plans.
But he accused interpreters, unhappy with dramatic pay cuts under the new contract, of big gaps in provision.
In the month after the five-year deal, which has since been taken over by Capita, began the company only fulfilled 65% of service requests and over the first quarter faced 2,232 complaints.
Mr Wheeldon told the Justice Select Committee: "The main issue was the level of interpreters that were agreeing to work for us. There was an awful lot of intimidation around this contract and strong encouragement for interpreters not to do the work even where they had registered or even taken some assignments and then decided not to work.
"I think there's plenty of police reports of interpreters that have reported these incidents to the police. There have been interpreters that have worked for us that have been assaulted, been spat on, been threatened. The list of things that went on were quite horrendous.
"Honestly, I think if we had not seen the level of resistance we had seen in interpreters I think the other issues, which were probably much smaller, would have been the teething problems of any contract."
Mr Wheeldon said the company extrapolated figures because there was a 'serious lack of management information' from the court service about its needs.
"None of the courts really recorded any information at all so all we were able to do was use what was available from certain parts like the tribunals and try and extrapolate out what we thought it would look like across the court system," he said.
Asked by committee chairman Sir Alan Beith whether the company knew it was 'flying blind' Mr Wheeldon replied: "Obviously we pushed and tried to get as much management information as we could but if it just doesn't exist there is very little you can do to make it appear.
"Once we got into the contract and were able to look at some of the management information it obviously provided a lot of insight that had we known prior would have allowed for better planning."
The new system has been accused of leading to courtroom chaos following complaints about proceedings being held up or collapsing because interpreters have failed to show up on time or have the necessary competence.
MPs were told the cost of an ineffective magistrates' court case was around £650 while the bill for crown court was £1,500.
Justice minister Helen Grant, who worked as a family lawyer for 20 years, said: "We are going to have to work creatively and carefully and cleverly to get this to the standard we all want.
"My honest opinion is that it's considerably better than it was in February. Complaints have dropped, performance has gone up and the National Audit Office has recommended that we fully implement the contract."