Home Office consultation on PACE (closing date 25/09/13)
The proposed PACE draft includes the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement as ‘an example of services provided that satisfy the requirements of the EU Directive’ and proposes to remove the National Agreement for the use of interpreters in the Criminal Justice System.
Please respond to this consultation if you share the concerns explained below and email your responses to: email@example.com by 25/09/13.
On 21 August 2013 the Home Office launched a consultation on the proposed changes to the PACE codes of practice C and H which aim to implement the EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings.
The right to high quality interpretation and translation during criminal proceedings is a cornerstone of a fair trial, and will be enforceable under EU law from October 2013.
Interpreters and translators are primarily used by the Police Service for evidential purposes and so are required to be of the highest standards. These include procedures such as PACE interviews, witness interviews, taking of statements etc. Only properly trained and qualified interpreters can provide an evidentially reliable service.
Please note the following proposed amendments:
Notes for Guidance
13A Chief officers have discretion when determining the individuals or organisations they use to provide interpretation and translation services for their forces provided that the services which are provided satisfy the requirements of the Directive. One example would be the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement for interpretation and translation services. Whenever possible, interpreters should be provided in accordance with national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State.
Professional legal interpreters and their representative bodies object to the following changes:
the inclusion of the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement as an example of services provided that satisfy the requirements of the EU Directive
the deletion of the sentence stating that wherever possible, interpreters should be provided in accordance with national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State.
The scope of the failings of the Ministry of Justice’s outsourcing of interpretation services in the justice sector to Capita Translation and Interpreting cannot have escaped anyone involved in interpreting in the criminal justice system. This situation must not be allowed to be extended to the police forces so that similar disruption and poor quality service is avoided.
We understand that ‘national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State’ refers to the National Agreement on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters in the CJS, which guaranteed minimum standards and quality. The NA is a safeguard to basic human rights and was put in place following the recommendations of Lord Justice Auld to ensure the right to a fair trial.
For a comprehensive overview of the situation, please refer to the Parliamentary inquiries and reports from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the Justice Select Committee and the extensive reports in the media, all of which can be found on the Professional Interpreters for Justice Campaign (PI4J) website.
Read the full document here.