Capita improving? First-hand evidence shows the opposite
Only on 18th September the recently appointed Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Helen Grant MP, repeated the now widely-known statement which is rapidly acquiring a dry taste of a stale policy. When confronted by Andy Slaughter MP about the abysmal level of service provided by Applied Language Solutions, she said “We are seeing significant improvements”.
Strangely enough, first-hand evidence shows anything but even the slightest degree of progress in the level of court interpreting.
Boston Magistrates' Court this morning. No Polish or Lithuanian interpreters supplied by ALS. The clerk and solicitors are furious. The Polish defendant is sent home with apologies as the case gets adjourned. So does the Lithuanian case and this is the 4th time this defendant comes to court only to find out there is no interpreter. ALS said they could send one for 3 pm. The solicitor said she couldn’t wait, it was a morning hearing after all. The interpreter request gets cancelled by the court as 3 pm is unacceptable, but will it show as the fault of ALS? Unlikely, as the MoJ says they don’t even have a record of cases adjourned due to the absence of interpreters.
But let’s just take one day last week. Friday, 5th October:
A Lithuanian colleague reports a hearing in Bury Magistrates’ Court was adjourned for the second time. The ALS linguist just phoned to say she was not coming, without giving any reasons.
A Slovak colleague receives a call from Crewe Magistrates’ asking her to come out to interpret.
A Russian RPSI gets a call from the court direct asking her to go to Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court.
Another Lithuanian interpreter receives a desperate call from Bournemouth Magistrates’.
These are just examples we know about, but the trend is clear: ALS is failing badly all over the country, nearly 8 months into the contract.
Twitter demonstrates the same:
On 6th October James Ashby writes: “Spent all day waiting last month because brief couldn't take instructions before trial. In the end went guilty at 4pm. So spent all day sitting around because nobody could find the interpreter. Terrible waste.”
A day earlier (the same Friday again!), Sara Williams tweets: “Trial due to commence in 15 mins. I have no instructions because my interpreter isn't here yet. Fabulous.” Gareth Weetman agrees with her: “It's happening up and down the country. Hopefully they will turn up, but there's a good chance they won't.”
The week before, on 28th September, Barbara Hecht writes: “2 Vietnamese interpreters required at court for 9. One Bengali interpreter attends at 10.30. ALS improving then.”
On 25th September Oliver Kirk tweets: “interpreter problems continue. I Have been roped into translating in Canterbury Crown for a Francophone Defendant in custody”.
Time may be eternity, but not for ALS… The clock is ticking...