The privatization of the court and tribunal interpreting service is hampering the justice system for those that don’t have English as their first language.
Delays in court appearances have soared as the majority of registered interpreters are refusing to work for a cost-cutting subsidiary of the controversial outsourcing company, Capita.
Now Unite, the largest union in the county, and five other professional interpreting organisations, representing 2,343 registered public service interpreters, will be launching a campaign this week to get the service brought back in-house by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Since the agreement between the MoJ and Applied Language Solutions (ALS) earlier this year – aimed at making £18 million in savings – 90 per cent of registered public service interpreters (RPSIs) have refused to sign up to ALS because of their concerns about the interests of justice, pay cuts and the imposition of unfavourable terms and conditions.
Unite national officer, Sally Kosky said: “The courts’ system is descending into chaos, as suspects are not being informed of their rights and defendants are unable to instruct their barristers. Collapsed trials and miscarriages of justice are on the cards.
“The cost of this outsourced shambles will, in the end, far outweigh any possible financial savings. ALS just does not have the skilled linguists to facilitate the smooth-running of the justice system.
“It is time that justice secretary Kenneth Clarke got a grip of his ‘Dad’s Army Captain Mainwaring’ department and brought the interpreting service back in-house as a matter of urgency.”
The campaign’s three aims are:
- Reversing the outsourcing to ALS or other commercial agencies, and the reintroduction of direct employment of freelance interpreters by the courts and police services
- Establish regular dialogue between interpreter organisations and government
- Persuade government to provide statutory regulation of the interpreting profession and protection of the title of Legal Interpreter.