Framework Fantasies: security vetting
At the bidding stage of the woe-stricken court interpreting contract, Applied Language Solutions had to promise the Ministry of Justice that all of their interpreters would be security vetted. This would be naturally expected to allow only security-cleared contractors to be able to work within the criminal justice sector. Indeed, Part 2.1 of the original ALS bid says: “Applied Language Solutions will require all linguists to be vetted and this can be a lengthy process of one to six weeks. Roll out will therefore be dependent on how quickly the vetting can be carried out by Warwickshire Police.”
So how true are the reports we are getting about ALS sending people to interpret in courts while they have no valid CRB clearance? These stories normally come from ALS linguists themselves. This week, however, some official information has come to light.
In a response to a Freedom of Information Request about the number of linguists Warwickshire Police has vetted for Applied Language Solutions Ltd since January this year to date, the police force has revealed that out of 720 applications only 574 were successful. The response is dated 19th July 2012.
In May the MoJ insisted that “close to 3,000 interpreters are now working under this contract”. So what has happened to the rest of the linguists, which amount to over 2,000 people who appear to be un-vetted, six months (not weeks!) into the contract operating? Or are 720 people all they have?
Of course, a counter argument can be put forward that some of those people ALS have on their database might have already had their clearance processed before they registered with the company. However, this goes against the commitment they made in the original bid which is, indeed, confirmed by an email ALS sent to their linguists in March this year and which I have seen, it specifically says: “Even if you currently hold a valid Enhanced CRB we still require all interpreters working on MoJ jobs to be police vetted by Warwickshire Police.”
The second alarming question is, who were the 146 ALS applicants who were not accepted by Warwickshire Police? This figure represents an incredibly high proportion of over 20%! Where did ALS get them from? How many of them had criminal convictions, were on an offenders’ register or worse? It certainly does make your hair stand on end...
On the 23rd April of this year, Minister Crispin Blunt vouched for ALS in parliamentary written answers. In his response to the question about the steps he is taking to ensure that unregistered interpreters working in Crown and magistrates courts are identified and prosecuted, he said: “Under the Ministry of Justice's Contract for Language Services, the contractor must: ensure that an interpreter/translator of the appropriate agreed standard (qualifications, experience and vetting) is provided for each individual assignment; ensure that all interpreters/translators can verify their identity and credentials to the relevant justice sector organisations for every assignment”.
Is the Minister aware of the seriousness of the breach ALS appear to have made by not checking every single person they send to interpret in court? Has the MoJ read the press over the past few days where a fake interpreter was reported to have attended court and no checks whatsoever were made? Can the MoJ bring Applied Language Solutions and Capita plc which owns it to account?
Another Framework fact, another fantasy…