Who is checking the new court interpreting system?
A Roma friend of some prolific serial offenders boasted the other day that at last he would be allowed to work in courts as an interpreter through ALS and help his friends at the same time. He asked me if I was working for them, I said "No". He was very proud and happy to say how important he felt he was!
I asked him: "How can you interpret in Courts? Do you hold any qualifications? Have you been trained the language they use or anything about the court proceedings? Don't you think it is a huge responsibility, and wrong interpreting could send a person to prison?" He replied: "No, but I don't need qualifications. That's the thing: We don't need qualifications anymore. And I know a lot about it (prisons, Courts...). I have been helping my friends here and in Romania...”
This whole new ALS set-up is utterly ridiculous. Being a close friend of the offenders and interpreting for them in Courts does not seem "impartial independent interpreting" to me at all. It is clear to me that this is not a profession for them but a way to reach some personal agenda.
This chap reminded me of a very well-known Romanian case of another "interpreter", Lavinia Olmazu, and her partner, who assisted lots of gipsies with interpreting and getting fake National Insurance numbers and defrauded the British taxpayer of millions of pounds in benefits scams. Under the rules for Romanians, introduced when the country joined the EU in 2007, Romanian immigrants cannot get a National Insurance number – which is the key to getting benefits – unless they can prove they have paid employment lined up. If they register with ALS, they have that proof so even if they work a few hours, they can get a NI number, and the road to claiming state benefits in the UK is open for them.
I used to respect the interpreting profession and the Justice system in this country. It is all a big fat joke now! Without integrity court interpreting is going to be not just farcical but tragic at the same time, and its consequences are enormous.