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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

PQs - 30 October 2013


30 October 2013 
Probation Service

6:39 pm
Andrew McDonald (Middlesbrough, Labour)
During my brief time serving on the Justice Committee, I have seen this Justice Secretary rolling out disaster after disaster
under his stewardship. The outsourcing of translation cases resulted in whole cases being abandoned at huge cost to the Court Service and putting at risk the liberty of individual citizens. The Ministry of Justice was repeatedly warned that ALS—Applied Language Solutions—was incapable of delivering a contract of that size, but those warnings were ignored. Although Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service forbade front-line staff to talk to talk to the Justice Committee, the Committee’s investigation resulted in a declaration that the privatisation was not sustainable, even after the intervention of ALS’s parent company, Capita. The electronic-tagging debacle has now required the intervention of the Serious Fraud Office, yet G4S and Serco, which won those contracts, have not been banned from entering bids to run probation services.

6:43 pm
Jenny Chapman (Darlington, Labour)
Serious concerns have been expressed, and not only in the Chamber today, about the Ministry of Justice’s capacity to ably procure and contract quality services. The language services procurement process was described as “shambolic” by the Select Committee on Justice, and the Public Accounts Committee reported that the Department was not an “intelligent customer”. The Justice Committee also found that the Ministry’s naivety in contracting was matched by its “indulgence towards underperformance” after the contracts came into operation. In the past two years, we have had: Jajo the rabbit signed up to be a court interpreter; charges for tagging dead inmates; and a new contracted prison in which it is easier to get drugs than soap. When is the Secretary of State going to recognise the need to hit the brakes, build skills and capacity in his Department, and improve on past failures?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Police apology for 'incomprehensible' translation of Diwali safety leaflet

October 26, 2013

Police apology for 'incomprehensible' translation of Diwali safety leaflet
Police have apologised for issuing a poorly translated Diwali safety leaflet that Punjabi speakers were unable to understand.
The force teamed up the fire service, Leicester City Council and Crimestoppers to send out 12,000 special greetings cards with tips to help people enjoy the Festival of Lights.
However a translation of the safety advice, organised by the police, has been described as "incomprehensible" by Punjabi speakers who say it has sentences which do not make sense and grammatical mistakes.
Accompanying Gujarati and Hindi translations on the same leaflet are correct.
Professor Shingara Dhillon, from Rushey Mead, was one of thousands of people who had the baffling Diwali greeting delivered to their homes.
Prof Dhillon, a member of the Panjabi Arts, Cultural and Literary Council UK, said: "It is a good idea to translate this information because there are 36,000 Punjabi speakers in Leicester.
"However, they have just done an awful job of it. It's not in proper Punjabi language.
"Lots of people have come to me and say they can't understand it.
"It looks like it has been done in a huge rush. It is very bad because the safety information is very important.
"The problem would have been obvious straight away.
"It's very embarrassing but also serious."
A police spokeswoman admitted the translation was "of a poor quality".
She said all three translations, each costing £42, had been given to an unnamed external company.
No further copies of the translation are to be distributed ahead of Diwali day on Sunday, November 3, but the spokeswoman said most of them had already been given out.
She said: "The leaflet was produced with good intention and we sincerely apologise for any upset or offence this may have caused. We will ensure that no further copies of the translation are distributed and will take the matter up with the company which provided the translation.
"This year the decision was made to translate the safety advice and greetings into three languages – Punjabi, Hindi and Gujarati – to ensure the information was accessible to a wider range of people whose first language isn't English.
"Leicestershire Police arranged for the text to be translated through an external company. The translated text was then produced as a leaflet which was inserted into the greetings cards."

Friday, 25 October 2013

Two more days for EU law on right to translation and interpretation to become reality

Brussels, 25 October 2013

The Final Stretch: Two more days for EU law on right to translation and interpretation to become reality
A concrete step in the making of a European area of Justice is just two days away. On 27 October the deadline for Member States to implement the first EU law on rights of suspects in criminal procedures will expire. The EU law guarantees citizens who are arrested or accused of a crime the right to obtain interpretation throughout criminal proceedings, including when receiving legal advice, in their own language and in all courts in the EU. The law was proposed by the European Commission in 2010 (IP/10/249) and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in a record time of just nine months (IP/10/1305).
"This can be an historic moment for justice in Europe: the first ever law on fair-trial rights for citizens will become a concrete reality – if Member States live up to their legal obligations," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "This is the first to enter into application from three proposals made by the European Commission to guarantee fair trial rights for people everywhere in the EU, whether they are at home or abroad. The Commission is delivering on its promises to strengthen citizens’ rights everywhere in Europe. I expect Member States to deliver too. The European Commission will soon report on who has done their homework. We will not shy away from naming and shaming – after all, this law goes to the very heart of citizens' rights."

There are over 8 million criminal proceedings in the European Union every year. On 9 March 2010, the European Commission made the first step in a series of measures to set common EU standards in all criminal proceedings. The Commission proposed rules that would oblige EU countries to provide full interpretation and translation services to suspects (IP/10/249, MEMO/10/70). The proposal was quickly agreed by the European Parliament and Member States in the Council (IP/10/1305). EU Member States have had three years to adopt these rules, rather than the usual two years, to give authorities time to put translated information in place.
The Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings guarantees the right of citizens to be interviewed, to take part in hearings and to receive legal advice in their own language during any part of a criminal proceeding, in all courts in the EU. The Commission insisted on translation and interpretation rights throughout criminal proceedings to ensure full compliance with the standards provided by the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, as well as with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Translation and interpretation costs will have to be met by the Member State, not by the suspect. Without minimum common standards to ensure fair proceedings, judicial authorities will be reluctant to send someone to face trial in another country. As a result, EU measures to fight crime – such as the European Arrest Warrant – may not be fully applied.
The right to translation and interpretation was the first in a series of fair trial measures to set common EU standards in criminal cases. The law was followed by a second Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings, adopted in 2012 (see IP/12/575), and the right to access to a lawyer, adopted in 2013 (IP/13/921). The Commission is set to continue with its roadmap in this area of justice with proposals for another set of fair trial rights for citizens expected before the end of 2013.

More information
European Commission – fair trial rights: