Focus on ALS Linguists
It’s an interesting term Applied Language Solutions (ALS) is using for people they send to interpret in courts. Linguists… Not interpreters, which is the proper term used to call someone doing this kind of job, but a linguist! Does this somehow mean that their linguists are non-interpreters?
We have read and heard of many unqualified, unvetted and inexperienced people given ALS assignments to interpret in Crown and Magistrates’ Courts. What strikes me even more is how the agency is allowed to get away with that by the Ministry of Justice at the heart of which, in principle, should be justice and fairness for all.
Last year there was a news story on the Romanian interpreter who was struck off the National Register and was given a first harassment warning by the police. A few weeks ago the same interpreter was reported to be working in courts, booked by ALS. While she was stripped of her professional membership under the old system, she has happily been accepted by ALS to work under the new system. How exactly does it prove stringent selection criteria ALS trumpets so much about in their responses to media enquiries?
Colleagues report that a Farsi interpreter and an Arabic interpreter, who were thrown out of the National Register as a result of criminal records, are currently working for the Tribunals through ALS. These are just some examples we know about. It seems to me there is absolutely no security vetting in place and anyone with some command of any language will do. How precisely is this new system more efficient than the old one?
Moving on to the collapsed trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court because of the interpreter’s mistake. The trial judge in that case directed that the interpreter should be the subject of disciplinary proceedings. Both prosecution and defence also explained to the Judge that they were considering making applications for wasted costs against the interpreter. But wait a minute, who do we see in another court a few days later working as an interpreter? The same linguist who made the mistake which halted the trial and who should have been thoroughly investigated by ALS by their own admission!
This new interpreter system looks like more of a joke every day. I wonder if these people endeavouring to go and interpret in courts actually realise that by taking their oath or affirmation they undertake to make a complete and accurate interpretation and if they are not up to it, they are breaking this oath as they shouldn’t be entitled to do it at all? Will it take one case of contempt of court by an ALS linguist for everyone to understand that the justice system isn’t there to play games with?