Court Staff on ALS Interpreters
I popped in to a court in Suffolk last week where I had a good chat with a member of staff who knew me very well from the old days.
The general impression is that ALS is NOT providing the service and is failing spectacularly. Everyone can't wait for the old system to be back in place.
Here is a summary of what I found out:
1. ALS "linguists" often fail to turn up. In such cases ALS always says the same: a. this is what was happening with the old system anyway (staff would say - rubbish, it wasn't happening at all!); and b. the only times ALS "linguists" fail to attend are when they are taken ill or when there are problems with traffic/transport (rubbish again, I was told, and no one believes that).
2. ALS "linguists" come from far-away places while staff know that local RPSIs are available in those languages. No local 'regulars' work there any more, apart from very few 'defectors'.
3. ALS "linguists" are often either late or don't turn up at all. This results in regular adjournments. Some cases are adjourned again and again and defendants are kept in custody awaiting new hearings. Sometimes defendants have no idea why they are remanded in custody as there is no one to explain the reasons to them in their language!
4. They cited the famous Google translator case and laughed. I'm told the poor Vietnamese defendant looked really puzzled when the translation was played back to him and the sound of what was supposed to be the Vietnamese language was really bizarre. Only when the text was shown to the defendant, he started nodding... But, of course, no one could tell whether the text was correct or made any sense.
How is this new system supposed to be better than the old one and save lots of money?