Bad for justice, bad for the interpreting profession and bad value for money
I have now received a response from the Ministry of Justice to my FoI request about data collection and service credits.
The way I see it, the answers only confirm and crystallise what the Public Accounts Committee underlined in its report. The MoJ is not an intelligent customer and is not monitoring its contract with Capita properly.
Responding to my first question, the MoJ says it does not have any policy document which sets out the data collection in respect of the performance of Capita/ALS under the Framework Agreement with HMCTS. This transpired after “a thorough search” and “enquires within the team responsible for managing the contract with ALS as well as the project team”. In all honestly, I don’t know how you can call this type of work “managing” anything. When the MoJ relies solely on weekly management information from the Contractor, it is nowhere near due monitoring.
The answer to my second question is the same: the MoJ does not have any policy document which instructs court staff not to retain a record of adjourned court hearings because of interpreting issues. Such data is collected for ineffective trials only. I asked this question after I received an email from the MoJ where they stated that “the Ministry of Justice and individual courts do not retain a record on whether every hearing is adjourned because of a lack of interpreter.” And my third question was linked to this claim: if no information on adjourned hearings is retained, how can the MoJ collect service credits from Capita?
On a discretionary basis the MoJ informed me that information on adjournments is recorded locally on individual case files, but this information is not collated centrally. What it shows to me is that when adjournments are recorded not locally or centrally, but on individual case files only, no service credits are effectively collected from Capita and there is no mechanism in place to collect such service credits - if no interpreter attended even though booked, arrived late, was dismissed due to poor performance or due to the wrong language spoken. If such adjournments were at least recorded locally by each court, they would appear on monthly invoices/settlements, but if they are not, then such records don’t exist and are not part of the accounting structure. No wonder the MoJ only collected 2,200 pounds in fines from Capita to date.
Now as a tax-payer I am wondering what kind of value this contract with Capita brings. In fact, the word "value" cannot be associated with this contract whatsoever. This contract is bad for justice, bad for the interpreting profession and bad value for money.