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
Jenny Chapman (Darlington,
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?
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
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
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
"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."
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
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.