Court interpreters in the spotlight

There has been growing press coverage concerning the declining standards of interpretation in the UK court system recently.  This follows the implementation of a new system which sees Applied Language Solutions providing translation and interpreting services to agencies across the criminal justice system.  The Ministry of Justice agreed the 5 year contract with ALS back in August 2011 and it began in February this year.  It’s hoped the new central service will save £18m a year of the current £60m interpreting budget.

As with any new system there seem to be a few teething problems, which the ALS is trying to iron out.

Bad press
The Law Society Gazette reports it has received numerous allegations from solicitors about problems with the system and that some interpreters provided by ALS have not been sufficiently competent.

Interpreting servicesOne report told of how a clerk at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court resorted to using Google Translate when a Lithuanian language interpreter couldn’t be sourced by the service.  Other reports of the ALS not being able to provide interpreters have also been received by Mike Jones, Chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association.  He told the Gazette that incidents in Sevenoaks, Colchester, Leeds, London, Kent, Lincolnshire and Sheffield had been reported to him.

According to an online survey by CrimeLine (an education and training provider) completed by 80 lawyers and judges, 56% of cases had a no-show from interpreters between 12-16th March.  However, there has been a slight improvement since with only 4 in 10 cases affected by a no-show from an interpreter between 16-20th April.

The Gazette also reports the collapse of a four-day burglary trial at a London Crown Court was due to a mistake made by a Romanian language interpreter.  The interpreter incorrectly translated that the defendant had allegedly been ‘bitten’ instead of ‘beaten’.

Some good news
During this period of transition courts have been told they can temporarily book short-notice interpreters using the previous system.  However, this is probably of little consolation to the people who have already been affected by the system’s failing.

Here to help
At Enigma Translation we provide professional interpreters for individuals as well as businesses and can help with communication in legal situations.  This could be at a court hearing, a tribunal, a solicitors meeting or when dealing with the police.

We can also ensure that our professional interpreters will observe your need for confidentiality and remain impartial, whatever the situation.

Of course it’s not just legal scenarios we can help you with, in fact any scenario where there is a language barrier and interpretation is required our interpreters can assist you.  We offer consecutive interpretation, simultaneous interpretation and whispered interpretation.

Don’t rely on computer software or gimmicky websites to decipher languages in crucial situations, choose the personal touch of a professional interpreter.  Give the Enigma Translation office a call on +44 (0) 1604 750799 or get in touch via email or Facebook.

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