Interpreter services are a con on the tax payer and a con on the victims of crime
Source: Interview with Michael Turner QC, 27 February 2013, BBC 3 Counties Radio
Michael Turner QC has given his permission for these comments to be published widely
“Interpreter services are a con on the tax payer and a con on the victims of crime” says Michael Turner QC, Chairman Criminal Bar Association
“This Government and the last have been obsessed by outsourcing publicly funded work.
The problem with the present interpreter service which was started off by Applied Language Solutions (ALS) and is now Capita is that interpreters don’t turn up or when they do turn up they don’t speak the right language or they don’t speak English. It’s a con on the tax payer and a con on the victims of crime.
It costs at a very conservative estimate £110 a minute to run a court room with a jury and so you imagine if an interpreter doesn’t turn up for half a day or an hour, what the on cost of that really is for the tax payer and that is what is happening.
They often don’t speak the language of the defendant, or if they do they can’t speak English, so we can’t understand them.
What happens when you outsource to the private sector is that the private sector is desperate to make a profit and therefore it pays absolutely appalling wages. If you want proper interpreting services these are professional people and you have to pay them properly. It is as simple as that.
Lawyers see this on a daily basis. It is just not providing proper savings for the tax payer. This is country wide.
What the Government has not done is properly assess whether this is a true saving to the tax payer.
If you have an interpretation service which doesn’t actually provide the proper interpreters and that causes a delay in the court system, the victim of crime is let down, because the victim’s case can’t get on and it can’t be tried.
As soon as you have got a court which is not sitting and is delayed you are costing the tax payer £110 per minute for that service. That £15 million which the Government pretends it has saved is replicated 10 times over on another balance sheet which the tax payer never sees.
We have been screaming at the Government about this and we are yet to see whether it pays any dividends but the tax payer should know they are not getting value for money.
The Justice Minister is not at the coal face and I and my members are and you can’t rely on those assurances of £15 million savings.”