PI4J Letter to Rt. Hon. Margaret Hodge MP
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Dear Mrs Hodge
THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE’S LANGUAGE SERVICE CONTRACT
Thank you very much for your letter of 2nd September and for your actions in addressing the problems of the language service contract.
We are very pleased you have asked the National Audit Office to investigate further and would like to provide you with up-to-date information which we hope will be useful.
We do not believe the UK can ensure proper implementation of Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpreting and translation in criminal proceedings, which comes into effect this month. Member States are under a binding obligation to ensure a quality of interpretation (and translation) services that is sufficient for safeguarding the fairness of criminal proceedings. They are also bound by Article 8 (non-regression clause) which prohibits the lowering of existing standards in Member States during transposition.
The amount of interpreting work not currently covered by the Capita TI contract
Despite the former Justice Minister Helen Grant MP’s assurances during the parliamentary debate (20th June) in Westminster Hall that ‘we do not have supply problems’, there continue to be daily accounts of where Capita TI is unable to fulfil bookings or is providing linguists who are poorly qualified to interpret to an acceptable standard. Our latest Dossier of these is enclosed. Of equal concern is the quality of the linguists booked by private agencies working under subcontract to Capita TI. Are these subcontractors being checked?
Many courts continue to book their own interpreters directly. Worryingly, there are also examples where defendants or witnesses require interpreters but these are not provided and the cases are proceeding without them with the obvious risk to justice and the right to a fair trial.
The Ministry of Justice committed to publish information in its next Statistical Bulletin regarding the numbers of ‘off contract’ bookings but there has been no published data about the language services contract since the end of March (Statistical Bulletin, 30 January 2012 – 31 January 2013).
Read the full letter here
Official note of the 3rd September workshop