ALS videos: was there any truth in them?
Still fresh in the memory are those videos presented by David Joseph, the former Head of Linguist Relations at Applied Language Solutions. The company has now been rebranded by its owner as Capita Translation and Interpreting, and they removed those superb videos from their dedicated MoJ Framework Agreement website, although they failed to rebrand that website too.
Those videos are available on the Internet though, and we have used some audio from them to tell a story of ALS’s initial intentions and to expose their failure to grasp the extent of their warped business plan.
Clip 1. Joseph says: “We respect the needs of the profession and have a payment model that is built to preserve it. […] Interpreter rates are non-negotiable.”
Facts. The Public Accounts Committee and the Justice Select Committee have already got to the bottom of what was behind ALS’s payment model: slashing rates badly in the hope that interpreters could be bullied to accept them. ALS interpreters also spoke out anonymously to admit that some of them managed to negotiate rates, even though the Framework website still states they are “non-negotiable”. We have also read a public blog of one Capita court interpreter who openly said she was lying about her expenses.
Clip 2. Joseph says: “As stipulated by the policing services linguists supporting policing matters will have to be vetted by the security services. If you want to work in policing operations in the future you will have to be vetted.”
Facts. While the video was first published in August 2011, by 19th July 2012 only 720 applications had been received by Warwickshire police responsible for carrying out the vetting under the Framework Agreement, and only 574 applications were accepted.
Clip 3. Joseph says: “Professional linguists are the voice of police, prison, probation officers, magistrates, solicitors, barristers, witnesses, victims and the accused. It is unacceptable that they are not properly recognised as such and treated with the respect they deserve for the very demanding work that they do.”
Facts. The work of a court interpreter is very demanding indeed, however, the current arrangement severely waters down the qualifications and experience required to operate in such a sensitive environment, as Tiers were introduced. On 29th October 2012 at the Public Accounts Committee hearing Sunna Van Loo, Public Service Director, could not clarify which qualifications Capita allegedly verifies and accepted that it is possible that they do not even have documented evidence of prior interpreting experience for their linguists.
Clip 4. Joseph says: “A person with insufficient qualifications is not permitted to carry out work under the terms of the agreement.”
Facts. The National Audit Report and the committee hearings last month revealed that the Ministry of Justice allowed use of Tier 3 linguists who do not really hold sufficient interpreting qualifications. Numerous witness reports, including those published on this website, confirm this.
Clip 5. Joseph says: “CPD work will not be confined to interpreters, it’s recognised by every professional in the field that there is just as acute need for criminal justice professionals to expand their understanding of the needs of the interpreters.”
Facts. Not only has the contractor failed to run proper CPD workshops, apart from few court familiarisation seminars, we are not aware of any workshops held by Capita for criminal justice professionals.
Clip 6. Joseph says: “Under the Framework Agreement there is a mandated obligation to carry out 30 hours of continuous professional development work annually.”
Facts. Capita offered those “CPD workshops” in May 2012 (one in London, one in Birmingham and one in Manchester). It was from 10 am to 3.30 pm with 45 minutes for lunch. That’s just 5 hours of CPD, and only 20 people attended the London workshop. They, therefore, have to organise 25 hours of additional CPD until January 2013. Suppose Capita does not provide 30 hours of CPD per year, will the MOJ fine Capita? A quick look at the Framework Agreement also shows there is some information about CPD on Pages 129 and 133 but it does not specifically say “30 hours”.
Clip 7. Joseph says: “A Tier 1 interpreter must hold full qualifications and succeed during the assessment screening process to carry out Tier 1 jobs.”
Facts. The parliamentary hearings have already identified that Capita does not do any in-work assessments at the moment, and those which were carried out earlier are limited in their number, with some of them unmarked.
The videos in full are available to everyone to view here: