Solicitors are at liberty to instruct the tried and tested NRPSI interpreters
Dear Mr Fowler
I am encouraged to read your comments about the potentially dangerous consequences of the MOJ's ill considered decision to outsource interpreting work within the CJS to a single supplier which has no experience in the field or any appreciation of the high level of skill and professionalism necessary to effectively undertake this kind of work. The MOJ and the minister, Helen Grant MP, seem oblivious to the warnings they have long been receiving from those of us in the interpreting profession who take our responsibilities seriously and who, unlike them, know something about the work. It is clear that they do not value the work of dedicated and highly qualified professionals but believe that what we do can just as easily be done by someone with no qualifications or experience for a fraction of the cost. It is akin to going to asking a car mechanic to do your dental work and expecting to come out of the experience with a smile on your face.
You have taken the trouble to make known your feelings about the detrimental effect on the justice system in this country that this contract is having and is likely to continue to have. I wish that more of your colleagues in the legal profession were prepared to be as vocal on this matter as you have been. I have written to most of the solicitors with whom I have worked over the years - in some cases over a considerable length of time - in an effort to engage them on this subject. Unfortunately I must report that I have nor received a single response. I understand that solicitors' practices are very busy and that it is increasingly difficult for many of them to turn a profit in the work they do, and that they have little time to give over to what they would no doubt consider to be non essential correspondence. However, many of them seem to forget that interpreters are important colleagues who, arguably, deserve a little more in the way of appreciation and solidarity. Were the profession to receive far more robust support from the legal profession I believe the dangers implicit in the framework agreement contract might enjoy a far greater profile.
Below you can see an extract of the email I sent to many solicitors' firms.
Thank you, Mr Fowler, for the stand you have taken and please accept my very kind regards.
I know that you will be aware of the current situation whereby the courts are obliged to use an agency to provide interpreters. Although the service this agency (ALS/Capita) provides is notoriously poor, the MOJ seems for now adamant that the new arrangements will stay in place. NRPSI interpreters such as myself, who have considerable experience within the court/legal environment, refuse to work for this agency and as a result of this and the lamentable rates of remuneration offered to interpreters, the quality and dependability of service has declined dramatically in recent months. I would urge you and other practitioners at the firm to bring to the attention of court officials instances of ineffective or sub-standard interpreting where you encounter them.
Of course, for your own conferences with clients, at prisons or in the office, and for your translation requirements, you are still at liberty to instruct the tried and tested interpreter/translators on your database.