Given a Fine but will he Pay it if he Understood Nothing?
A Romanian suspect was remanded in custody at Parkside Police Station in the early hours of 7th February and taken to Cambridge Magistrates’ for the morning hearing on the same day. No ALS interpreter turned up, so, at 11.39 am, I got a phone call from the Listings Office at Peterborough, asking if I could step in. I refused, giving my reasons. At 13.07 pm I called Cambridge Magistrates’ and spoke to someone I believed to be a Court Clerk. He was aware of the case and said it had been adjourned until tomorrow, 8th February.
I went to Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on 8th February to see what would happen. There was no sign of that defendant’s name on any list. I phoned the cells to see if he was there. They told me he had left the court the day before. I asked if he had been bailed for another date. They said no, he had been given a fine considering the time he had spent on remand. He hadn't understood anything but the magistrates had wanted to deal with the matter quickly.
This was a depressingly familiar tale in the last 2 weeks in courts when attempts are made to deal with matters without interpreters.