FOI response - Confirmation that there is no formal register of Legal Interpreters and Translators
Our Reference: 85063 24th September 2013
Freedom of Information Request
Dear Mr Pells,
Thank you for your Internal Review request dated 28th August 2013 regarding a Freedom of Information request in which you asked for:
“As part of the Language Services Framework Agreement with Capita Translation and Interpreting (hereafter referred to as CTI), the contractor CTI is required to maintain a Register of Interpreters and Translators to be used in connection with the Framework.
Please advise 1) the number of individuals on this register on 1st July 2013 and 2) how many of these individuals had fulfilled at least one interpreting or translation assignment during the period 1st April 2013 to 1st July 2013.”
Your request has been passed to me because I have responsibility for answering requests relating to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and is being handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
The purpose of an Internal Review is to assess how your Freedom of Information request was handled in the first instance and to determine whether the original decision given to you was correct. This is an independent review: I was not involved in the original decision.
I have reassessed your case and after careful consideration I have concluded that the initial response that was sent to you was compliant with the requirements of the FOIA. An explanation of my decision follows. This is an independent review: I was not involved in the original decision.
Your original request asking for information relating to Interpreters as above was answered on 27th August within the statutory 20 day deadline and it was confirmed that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) does not hold the requested information.
Your request was answered by the business unit that deals with Interpreters within the MoJ. I have contacted them with regards to your comments made in your request for this Internal Review and they have confirmed that the information is not held by the MoJ but by the contractors Capita Translation as per their original response to you.
I will address your comments below
Page 102 – Specification, para 4;
‘The overarching deliverable from this work, which the Contractor must ensure in the provision of the Services, shall be:..’
There follows a list of items which include;
‘…6. Increasing numbers of suitably qualified and vetted interpreters/translators to meet local demand across England and Wales….’ and
‘…13. It is expected that the Bidders make themselves familiar with the new Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and the obligations within it. The Directive was adopted in October 2010 and has to be fully implemented within 36 months.
Areas which are brought to your attention:
Article 2(5) – Right to complain about the quality of interpretation Member States shall ensure that the suspected or accused persons have the possibility to complain that the quality of the interpretation is not sufficient to safeguard the fairness of the proceedings.
These clauses refer to the contractor’s responsibilities not those of the MoJ. Should those responsibilities not be met the MoJ would raise any concerns highlighted. A rigorous system is in place for the Courts within HMCTS to record any failures in the service provided. Regular meetings take place between HMCTS and Capita.
Article 5(2) – Registers
Member States shall endeavour to establish a register or registers of independent translators and interpreters who are appropriately qualified. These registers shall be made available to legal counsel and relevant authorities. By “relevant authorities”, we mean all government organisations with a justice sector remit. This includes:
HMCTS; Police; Crown Prosecution Service; NOMS; Legal Services Commission; Other relevant prosecutors
By “made available”, we mean that relevant people should be able to either search on a website or ask for a copy of the register or make a telephone call and ask for information about, say, interpreters in Polish working in Cumbria. Contractors would then be obliged to give details…’
Under additional requirements;
‘…21. The Contractor shall produce a new register of interpreters and translators which is accessible to all within the justice sector….’
Based on these contract requirements I submit that there is an overwhelming business reason why you should be in possession of the information requested. That reason is to have effective contract monitoring and performance management. If you do not have the information, how else do you determine whether the contractor is fulfilling its contractual requirements to create a register of interpreters and translators?
If you do not keep track of the numbers on that register, how are you able to measure the contractors’ obligation to increase the numbers of qualified and vetted interpreters/translators? Your statement that you do not have the information requested and further, that you do not even perceive a business case for having the information indicates a somewhat lackadaisical approach to quality and contract management.
Outside the scope of the Act I can confirm that when a court requires an interpreter they contact Capita who provide the name of an interpreter from their own list. HMCTS does not have sight of this list. This information belongs to Capita who are the data controllers not the MoJ or HMCTS. With regards to the number of registered interpreters this figure will change daily and not recorded by Capita-TI as a daily figure so therefore they would not be able to go back to the date in July.
With regards to how many of these interpreters have completed one or more jobs this would have to been done manually by Capita-TI and would be too costly to complete.
In conclusion I am satisfied that the response you received on 27th August was correct and therefore fully compliant with the Freedom of Information Act
You have the right to appeal our decision if you think it is incorrect. Details can be found in the ‘How to Appeal’ section attached at the end of this letter.
You can also view information that the Ministry of Justice has disclosed in response to previous Freedom of Information requests. Responses are anonymised and published on our on-line disclosure log which can be found on the MoJ website:
The published information is categorised by subject area and in alphabetical order.
Operational Delivery Manager/ Kilo