How ALS service failures hinder police work and pose a threat to society
Three Hungarian suspects had to be bailed last week because ALS was unable to send an interpreter to assist in their interviews. They were arrested on suspicion of theft. They were kept in custody overnight and the police requested an interpreter to come to the police station for 9.00 am. At 9.00 am ALS called and told the police that the earliest they could send an interpreter would be 11.00 am. At 11.00 am ALS rang again and said that the interpreter will not get there until 1.00 pm. By this time the police decided to bail the suspects because even if the interpreter had arrived at 1:00 pm they would not have had sufficient time to interview them all before their custody time ran out.
According to an officer who works at this police force, this is now common practice - it happens regularly that ALS cannot send an interpreter and the officers then bail the suspects and ask them to attend the police station at another time for the interviews.
The consequences of this are potentially more serious than it first seems. In the case above, the three suspects were bailed - there were no conditions attached to their bail. They were free to go, free to reoffend. Furthermore, they can freely discuss the incident they were arrested for and fabricate a version of events that will save all three of them from prosecution. Cases like this are also sending the wrong message to foreign criminals - they will learn quickly that the police and courts are having difficulties finding interpreters and therefore get interviewed at a later time, days after their arrest. These few days will give them enough time to prepare for the interview and come up with an alibi.
And last but not least let's not forget about the extra costs incurred by keeping 3 suspects in custody for close to 24 hours just so that they can bail them the following day, only for them to come back at another time. And also the man-hours of the officers, wasted by being on standby waiting for interpreters who never arrive, and having to process the suspects twice in custody, etc. Not to mention the likelihood of the suspects not answering bail and a warrant having to be issued for their arrest.
The new interpreter system is unfair, expensive and unprofessional. Justice served? Not anymore...