The ALS/Capita case: how much longer?
This week AIIC published on its blog an article by Katarzyna Kaszyca, a UK based conference and court interpreter, about the continuing fiasco of the Framework Agreement signed by the Ministry of Justice with ALS. It is an overview of the current situation including a short analysis of the NAO report, inefficiencies of the current system and the impact the ALS/Capita contract can have on the UK’s justice sector, interpreters’ professional standards and training.
On NAO report, Katarzyna writes:
Most shocking of all […] was the finding that some of the MoJ staff understood that ALS would be unable to comply with the mandatory quality requirement of the contract in time for the ‘go live’ date, and therefore “agreed with ALS in December 2011 that, on a temporary basis, un-assessed and unmarked interpreters could be used in the justice system as a last resort.”
One could reasonably ask why the Ministry of Justice was keen to implement the project in one go […] The NAO report states: “The Ministry wanted to show a clear commitment to the new arrangements, when many interpreters and translators were still strongly objecting to them publicly. Switching to the new system in a single step, it felt, would oblige more interpreters and translators to accept it.” Clearly, the project was not just about the savings, but also about bringing interpreters who refused to be treated as objects to heel.
On present system inefficiencies:
The provision of court interpreters is more chaotic now than before the changes were introduced on 30 January 2012. On any given day there might be several interpreters working in the same court building, all booked under different provisions and working under different T&C: […]
Although ultimately all these interpreters are paid from public funds, the payments are accounted for under different budgets – that of ALS, court central funds, the CPS and the Legal Services Commission […].
The MoJ had hoped that all Criminal Justice agencies, including police forces [...], would sign a framework agreement with ALS, and in that way all spending on CJS interpreters would come under one roof. […] So far this plan has not worked.
On professional standards:
This might also be a brilliant opportunity to promote better working conditions for interpreters in this sector. […] When examining one of many ALS’s failures, Lord Justice Thomas commented: “ [...] obviously a break costs money to the court and it's a question of balancing whether it is better to have a break or to have two interpreters”.
The full article can be accessed here.