Ministry of Justice spent £21.3 million on interpreters last year
The amount of British taxpayer money being used to provide Albanian translators for suspected criminals has more than doubled in the last five years, new figures show.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that a record £1.2 million was spent in the last year alone providing bilingual staff to communicate legal proceedings to Albanians accused of committing crimes in the UK.
This is a rise of 35 per cent in the last year and double the £507,000 figure recorded five years ago.
The surge comes as the number of Albanians locked up in prisons in England and Wales has soared from 726 to 1,500.
The MoJ said translators are also used for victims and witnesses of criminal activity.
The surge in money being spent on language assistance for Albanians comes as crime experts have revealed gangs from the Balkan state have muscled in to take over much of the UK's illegal drug trade.
The National Crime Agency is working with local police in Albania to prevent people heading for Britain, and is cracking down on smuggling gangs, it is understood.
The NCA issued a warning in 2017 stating it had increasing concerns that violent Albanian criminal gangs were gaining control in illegal drug trading, particularly for cocaine.
The NCA report said: ‘Criminals from the Balkans are increasingly expanding their network of influence, forming direct relationships with cocaine suppliers in Latin America.
‘The threat faced from Albanian crime groups is significant.
‘London is their primary hub, but they are established across the UK.’
Home Office officials say more than 6,000 Albanians have arrived up to August this year in sub-standard dinghies and rigid inflatables, compared with less than 900 in the previous three years combined.
The MoJ figures show that the cost of translators for people from former Iron Curtain nations has increased.
The amount spent on Polish suspected criminals is now £3.2 million - more than any other language from around the world, up from £2.8 million five years ago.
In total, the Government department spent £21.3 millions of taxpayer's money on translators and interpreters - an increase on the previous year’s spends of £16 million, when court cases were delayed due to the pandemic.
In the last year, £1.3 million was spent on two different types of Arabic, £1.5 million on Urdu and £933,000 on two versions of Bengali.
In addition, £837,000 was spent on three types of Kurdish and £230,000 on mandarin.
A total of £184,000 was spent on Italian, £415,000 on Spanish, £220,000 on various French dialects and £57,000 on Greek.
Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘It was inevitable that the cost of translation services for Albanians was going to increase.
‘The fact that it has gone up by so much simply confirms that there are not only more Albanians coming but also that we are failing to identify criminals at the border.
‘All this is proof of how lax border control has become. This is dangerous and puts at serious risk the safety of ordinary citizens.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said interpreters and translators were needed for victims and witnesses to crimes as well as suspects and that the service was monitored closely to ensure value for money.
A spokesman said: ‘Interpreters ensure criminals cannot escape justice by arguing they did not receive a fair trial.’