Is the new court interpreting system open to abuse?
Last week I had a short encounter with a young Polish interpreter in a Magistrates’ Court. I just introduced myself, told her that I am not working for ALS, and was just curious as to why some people signed up with them.
To all my further questions about the ethics of this voluntary ‘submission’ to an agency which doesn’t care about the quality of the services they provide and thus helping this agency to continue with their flawed system, I received defensive answers.
However, this interpreter confirmed to me what we had already heard from others – there is a substantial difference between the ways interpreters are treated! She told me that she negotiated the payment for every single job and doesn’t take a job if her demands are not met! She is paid £30.00 for the first hour, and £20.00 for all subsequent hours. She is paid for her travel time and for all her travel expenses – tickets, mileage, and parking. And if the job doesn’t last as long as the agency anticipated, she claims for the whole time she was booked for! On the day I met her, she was booked for 3 hours, but she was free 40 minutes after arriving at the court. She told me that she would claim for 3 hours as there are no forms that the court must sign in support of the linguist’s finishing time! (Under the old system our forms were signed promptly on leaving the court room.) On hearing this, the words from Mr. Blunt’s statement came to my head: “The system was open to abuse…”
In the light of the aforementioned I have to point out that Mr. Blunt’s statement requires some grammatical correction: the TENSE used in the sentence is grammatically FLAWED (it is understandable though as not everyone is a professional linguist!). In the Present Tense one should use the verb ‘IS’, hence the statement should read: “The system IS open to abuse”…