The new ALS system will not settle, time to scrap it
A few days ago I spoke to someone who works at Boston Magistrates' Court, who told me the situation with interpreting was getting only worse, not any better. They recently had a Portuguese interpreter coming from Aberdeen (420 miles away, each way) to interpret for a Lithuanian (!) speaker! The Portuguese interpreter was sent away, of course, and a Lithuanian interpreter from Liverpool came over to Boston instead (150 miles each way).
The court worker added that the only decent linguist they (!) think they had was a young lady, who used to be a checkout girl at a supermarket. I have been told by a colleague that this lady failed a MET interpreting test before.
I recall Lord McNally, the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice answering questions in the House of Lords on 1st November 2011. I quote: “There were a lot of faults in the old system, which is why the previous Administration initiated the inquiry. Having looked at the outcome of that inquiry, we have adopted this new system, providing a new register with a single supplier. Let us see how it works. We have confidence that the system will work, that qualified interpreters will sign up to it and that they will get a volume of work that will give them a decent living.”
We have now seen the new system has lots of faults, we have seen that it doesn’t work, which the Ministry of Justice acknowledged by letting the courts temporarily book interpreters direct and through other agencies. We have seen that qualified interpreters have not and will not sign up and will not earn a decent living.
In the same session Lord McNally said: “Let us see how it settles. There are many threats and ideas that people are not going to sign up or that it will not work out.” Surely, we have seen enough evidence now the new ALS system is not going to settle? Or does the truth hurt too much to accept the obvious?