Increasing use of Tier 3 linguists in Courts
The increasing use by Capita of Tier 3 linguists to fulfil court bookings is, perhaps, the most surprising statistic to emerge from the latest National Audit Office report on the implementation of the MoJ Language services contract. 91% of the court booking staff that were surveyed stated that they accepted Tier 3 linguists because Capita could not supply Tier 1 or Tier 2 linguists. It is difficult to see why Capita should be having any more difficulty in finding suitably qualified interpreters than it was 12 months ago. Compare the data supplied by Capita for November 2012 and November 2013.
In November 2012, Capita fulfilled 11,949 bookings, of which 96.5% were done by the 970 Tier 1 and Tier 2 linguists they claimed to be working for them. That works out at an average of 11.9 jobs per month. If we fast-forward to November 2013, Capita claims the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 linguists has increased to 1401. If one assumes that the work rate of each linguist remains the same, then this number of linguists should be able to handle about 16,500 bookings, significantly greater than the 14,238 bookings that were actually fulfilled. In other words, Capita has more than enough Tier 1 and Tier 2 linguists to fulfil court bookings, without having to resort to offering unqualified Tier 3 linguists.
The data shows that in November 2013, Tier 1 and Tier 2 were only used for 90% of bookings (approx. 12,800) which works out to about 9.2 bookings per linguist. Over the course of 2013, Capita has been systematically reducing the work load on tier 1 and tier 2 linguists, whilst ramping up the utilisation of Tier 3. The increasing use of Tier 3 is nothing to do with the availability of qualified linguists. It is driven by Capita’s desperate need to stem losses on the contract. Tier 3 linguists are paid less, so Capita has a vested interest in supplying a Tier 3 linguist, even though there may be plenty of Tier 1 and Tier 2 linguists that have offered to do the job.
Of course, the process by which Capita selects a linguist is completely opaque to court staff, who remain oblivious to fact that Capita is somewhat misleading them when it says there are no Tier 1 or Tier 2 linguists available. This could be remedied by giving court staff full access to the booking portal so that they can see for themselves who is prepared to take the assignment.
Finally, given the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 linguists which Capita claims to be working for them, is it not time for the MoJ to ban the use of Tier 3 in criminal proceedings?