Inquiry announced into ALS/Capita contract for court interpreting
Professional interpreter bodies have welcomed the official inquiry announced into the outsourced contract for court interpreting services operated by Applied Language Solutions, owned by Capita. The contract, which was awarded by the Ministry of Justice, has been in operation since February this year and is valued at £75 million per annum.
The Government’s Justice Select Committee launched the inquiry on Tuesday 17 July calling for written evidence on the provision of interpreting and translation services since ALS/Capita began operating as the Ministry of Justice’s sole contractor for language services.
The Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) and the Society for Public Service Interpreting (SPSI), working with other interpreter bodies representing professional interpreters, have lobbied from the beginning against the unnecessary outsourcing and refused to support the Ministry of Justice’s Framework Agreement because no proper consultation took place.
ALS/Capita has struggled to recruit suitably qualified and experienced interpreters and its founder and Chief Executive, Gavin Wheeldon, along with other senior executives, have left the business in recent weeks.
Geoffrey Buckingham, Chairman, APCI, says: “This outsourced contract bears all the same hallmarks as the outsourced contract for security hitting the headlines currently. ALS/Capita is consistently failing to meet the terms of its £75 million annual contract agreement which the professional interpreter bodies have refused to be a part of from the start. They can’t recruit in sufficient numbers, the quality isn’t there and there’s poor management and accountability.”
Last week Justice Minister Lord McNally was forced to admit in the House of Lords (9 July) that estimated savings of £12 million in the contract’s first year, already revised down from the initial estimate of £18 million, will ‘probably not be achieved’.
Guillermo Makin, Chairman, SPSI, says: “Professionally qualified and experienced interpreters have valiantly upheld their ethical principles by not signing up for a system which cannot be sustained and which is degrading British justice and breaking the law on a person’s right to a fair trial. We have a dossier of evidence which we will be providing to the Justice Select Committee in response to their inquiry.”
On 12 July eight professional interpreter bodies wrote collectively to the Minister of Justice, Crispin Blunt MP, offering to meet and discuss a way forward. Given the recent departure of Mr Wheeldon and several other senior executives from ALS/Capita, the organisations joined forces to write and offer their services in helping the Ministry of Justice make real savings and improve efficiency whilst upholding high standards of justice. They are yet to receive a response.
Unqualified interpreters recruited by ALS/Capita, often not even assessed or vetted, have continued to make mistakes, causing trials to be adjourned or abandoned and the contract cost to continually mount. In May the Ministry of Justice said they would be monitoring the contractor daily after its report for the first three months of the contract showed that there were 3,833 unfulfilled requests for interpreters which ALS/Capita failed to supply and 2,232 complaints. The National Audit Office is also investigating.
Follow Interpreters for Justice, the campaign instigated by APCI and SPSI, on Twitter @United4Justice and also see www.linguistlounge.org for many examples of ALS failings.
Deadline for submission of evidence to the Justice Select Committee is 3rd September 2012.
New enquiry: Interpretation and Translation Services and the Applied Language Solutions Contract
The Justice Select Committee is launching a call for written evidence on the provision of interpretation and translation services since Applied Language Solutions (ALS) began operating as the Ministry of Justice’s sole contractor for language services in February 2012.
Specifically we will seek to explore six areas:
- The rationale for changing arrangements for the provision of interpreter services
- The nature and appropriateness of the procurement process
- The experience of courts and prisons in receiving interpretation services that meet their needs
- The nature and effectiveness of the complaints process
- The steps that have been taken to rectify under-performance and the extent to which they have been effective
- The appropriateness of arrangements for monitoring the management of the contract, including the quality and cost-effectiveness of the service delivered.
The deadline for submissions is Monday 3 September 2012
Eight interpreter bodies join forces in writing to the Ministry of Justice
On 12 July the following bodies wrote a joint letter to Crispin Blunt MP, Minister of Justice:
- Association of Police & Court Interpreters (APCI)
- Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL)
- Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)
- National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI)
- National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators (part of Unite the Union) (NUPIT)
- Professional Interpreters Alliance (PIA)
- Society for Public Service Interpreting (SPSI)
- Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters (SOMI)
Interpreters for Justice
Interpreters for Justice is united against the MoJ's Framework Agreement for the provision of public service interpreting and was formed by the APCI and SPSI in order to represent the views of their members, all of whom are committed to upholding the quality and professionalism of public service interpreting in the UK.
Results of a survey commissioned by Interpreters for Justice (supported by APCI and SPSI) and carried out by consultancy Involvis, showed 90% of respondents, representing 51% of the 2,340 interpreters registered with the NRPSI (National Register of Public Service Interpreters) have not and will not register for the new system administered by Applied Language Solutions (ALS).
Just (6%) or 71 of the 1,206 interpreters who completed the survey said they had decided to undergo the assessment put in place by Applied Language Solutions (ALS). Of these, 93.5% said the assessment was ‘flawed’, ‘unprofessional’ and ‘humiliating’ and the majority will not continue with ALS.
Gavin Wheeldon requested that interpreters’ representative bodies join a ‘representative panel’ but only on condition they ‘call a halt to the boycotts.’ However they have unanimously rejected the idea of the panel, insisting on speaking only to the Ministry of Justice.
For interviews and further press information including details of some of the problems going on in courts (we have a dossier) please contact:
Penny Arbuthnot: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01473 326341 / 07885 238374
Aisleen Marley: email@example.com
Telephone: 07787 228999
T: 01473 326341
M: 07885 238374