Letter from the Scottish Interpreters and Translators Association to JSC
9 November 2012
Dear Committee Members
We write to apprise you of our serious concerns regarding the conferring of interpreting services in England to ALS, now a subsidiary of Capita Plc, which seems to be a clear attempt to create a monopoly within the Justice sector in England and Wales, such as that extant in Scotland.
The Scottish Interpreters and Translators Association (SITA) is the largest professional organization in Scotland. It was formed in 2009 in response to the creation of a monopoly within the Criminal Justice sector, in turn created by the awarding of the contract for the provision of interpreting and translating services in Scotland to a single supplier. If Scottish interpreters wish to continue working within the Justice system they must register with them and accept the main Contractor’s terms and conditions. Despite being self-employed, they are expected to take any jobs the Agency deems fit to allocate to them. Their right to refuse a job which offers a rate lower than the minimum hourly wage is questioned and interpreters may face covert sanctions if they refuse work. Equally, their right to free speech has been compromised, and any interpreter unwary enough to voice any criticism of the system has been blacklisted, regardless of their qualifications and experience. Thus, some of the most gifted linguists have been barred from working within the CJS under this regime.
The £5.5m contract awarded by the Scottish Government was intended to create a streamlined interpreting service for Scotland's justice system which would improve both "quality" and "efficiency", according to the Crown Office. It was also expected to increase the number of professional interpreters and assure continuous professional development in order to improve overall conditions for professional linguists.