After Capita reduced rates paid to their interpreters earlier this month, more and more of them are reported to have stopped taking assignments from which they can no longer make any money. No wonder that Capita started struggling in most common languages in areas previously covered reasonably well with linguists of various tiers. There was a Polish interpreter absent for a trial in London this week so the case was adjourned at an unknown cost to the public purse.
Another case never had the benefit of an interpreter, also in London, but in Hungarian. The defendant’s cousin was interpreting for him to the best of his ability. He understood that a fine was given but he was not sure whether he also got disqualified from driving for 6 months or was given 6 penalty points. If the offender was to get caught behind the wheel while disqualified, one wonders if he could claim he never understood the original sentence.
Sometimes it’s dubious whether it’s best to have no interpreter at all and have the case adjourned or struggle with one of Tier 3 interpreters who are supposed to be booked on very rare occasions. A colleague accompanied a solicitor for a legal visit with his client at Bronzefield prison this week. The client asked the solicitor if she could have this interpreter in court next time as she couldn’t understand the African lady she had had at the previous court hearing. A rare language? Spanish.
An RPSI once spoke to a Pizza chef who doubled as a cleaner and Capita “speaker”. When asked if he was happy with the agency, he said "We don't earn much money but at least we are able to work longer!" I wonder if his opinion has changed now when some jobs work out below the minimum wage or leave you out of pocket all together.
The MoJ should be getting worried. And maybe they already are if you read the communication kindly posted by a magistrate: "[...] We are aware of the performance issues that are currently being experienced in some locations. Where Capita are experiencing difficulties in providing an interpreter, HMCTS staff have been advised to continue to use the existing contingency arrangements; to either contact an interpreter directly from the NRPSI register, use a local agency or contact the booking team at Loughborough [..]"