West Midlands Police spend £7m on translators
Translators have been used by West Midlands Police for more than 150 different languages and dialects during the past five years, costing taxpayers £7.6 million.
Interpreters were needed to help prisoners in custody as well as providing support to victims and witnesses, a Freedom of Information request reveals.
The five languages where a translator was most commonly used includes Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Romanian and Bengali.
Translations have also been made for languages ranging from French, Spanish and German to lesser known African and Arabic dialects.
According to the figures released, the total bill for five years was £7,679,406. This breaks down to £1,425,897 in 2015, £1,465,328 in 2014 and £1,368,542 in 2013, £1,521,323 in 2012 and £1,898,316 in 2011.
It shows spending has fallen during the period. Around half of the money was spent on one-to-one interpretation for people being interviewed while held in police custody.
Cash was also spent on other face-to-face assignments as well as document translation and telephone interpreting, which mostly involves witnesses and victims.
Translators were required for a total of 152 different languages and dialects during five-year period.
Among them were Asian languages such as Japanese, Mandarin , Korean, Urdu, Punjabi and Nepalese as well as eastern European languages including Latvian, Serbian and Slovak.
Sign language interpreters were also called upon by the police.
West Midlands Police spokesman Brigg Ford said: "These figures are related to the custody process. When someone is being booked in after being arrested and there are issues with them understanding what they are being asked by the custody sergeant, then a translator will be needed."
Mr Ford said translators would not be used until after someone is arrested. When pre-planned operations are carried out and it's suspected foreign nationals will be involved, then police will try to ensure, where possible, that they have someone in the team who can understand them, he added.
The force also provides a number of 'practical guides' to the law and safety in a variety of different languages on its website to help non-English speaking people.
Figures released in November showed that West Mercia Police spent £1.1 million on interpreters over a three-year period.
Polish was the most common language being translated in the force area, which includes Worcestershire.
Just over £355,765 was spent on interpreters during the 2013/14 financial year, compared to £357,439 for the year before and £390,244 in 2011/12.
Romanian was the second most commonly translated language, followed by Lithuanian and Russian.