Defendant turns out to be ex-ALS ‘linguist’
I went to observe at Preston Crown Court on 28.02.12. There was a Polish defendant (case nr. 04ZE0573811) listed for sentencing plus a Polish interpreter arranged to attend at 12.00. I went there at 13.00 and Court 1, where the hearing was supposed to be taking place looked empty, the light was off, so I started walking away when the last lady leaving the court room said: "Excuse me, are you an interpreter?" I said: "I am, but not the one booked for the hearing", she said: "We are still waiting for an interpreter, she/he did not turn up."
I came back after lunch time and there was a Polish gentleman waiting near Court 1, I thought he was from ALS, but no, he was booked by the defence to interpret down in the cells for the defendant (he was booked by Lancashire Interpretation Translation Services and was the defendant's friend). Then the barrister came round, so I introduced myself and asked if she was happy with ALS and she said that she knew all about them, that it was happening all over the country and it was the third time ALS failed to provide an interpreter (for this case only).
I sat in the public gallery and the Judge adjourned the hearing until Thursday 01.03.2012. Initially it was proposed to be the following day (29.01.2012), but the Judge said he didn't think ALS would be able to provide an interpreter so soon and also got quite angry. He said that it was absolutely unacceptable, that it was the third time an interpreter had not turned up. And the other thing: the defence interpreter told me that his friend - the defendant (who needed an interpreter), used to work for ALS, but they never paid him, so he stopped providing his services to them.
This says it all about the quality of linguists ALS sends to Courts and police stations. So Mr Wheeldon’s assurance that the North West contract is going well also appears to be a lie.