A chat with an ALS linguist: courts may use NRPSI direct again
A few days ago I paid a visit to my local Magistrates court which I will keep unnamed. While I was there, I had an interesting conversation with a Lithuanian ALS worker who travelled 4 hours each way to do this assignment. He was quite friendly and so was I and he told me he was on the NRPSI. Later checks showed that he wasn’t. How many more ALS linguists are claiming they are registered and qualified while checks are no longer made by court staff and all they see is a valueless ALS badge?
I asked him if he was going to renew his NRPSI membership which at the time I thought he had. His answer amazed me. He said that he would, as the courts may book interpreters direct again! At this point I asked whether there was a clause in his contract with ALS to prevent him from taking direct calls from courts. He smiled and was rather evasive, but from what he did say I understood that taking direct court jobs as well as working for ALS was not at all unthinkable. And we all know very well that because ALS is unable to cope with all of the bookings a lot of court assignments still go to registered court interpreters direct.
I managed to talk to the court staff, too. They said they'd never seen such an astonishing number of double bookings, no shows and other cock-ups in the whole of their working life. A few days before they'd had 4 Lithuanian linguists for only 3 defendants! (Just look at the brilliant, super-efficient, money-saving ALS booking system!) Other days either no one turns up at all for a few defendants or someone does turn up eventually after travelling half-way across the country. All were saying to me in chorus that they couldn't wait for the old system to come back. A solicitor I know told me his Polish linguist the other day didn't know what she was doing at all. He said the situation with ALS was absolutely appalling and that he'd written to his MP and to Kenneth Clarke!