Why does Applied Language Solutions send wrong language interpreters?
Reports on interpreting service performance of Applied Language Solutions/Capita suggest a remarkable consistency of booking wrong language interpreters for court cases, since the company started the contract in England and Wales at the end of January.
On 23rd April a Gloucestershire newspaper reported that a Somali speaker was sent to Cheltenham Magistrates' Court by ALS while a Kurdish Sorani interpreter had been requested. The prosecutor is described as disappointed after the booking had been made a month prior to the hearing.
On 18th May a colleague spoke of another case at Brighton County Court where a Latvian ALS contractor was incorrectly sent for a Lithuanian defendant. And although Latvia and Lithuania used to be part of one country, namely, the USSR with Russian as the state language, the Latvian and Lithuanian languages are totally different. By 18th May the case in question had already been re-listed three times. Since the same agency was used for the previous interpreter bookings of this case, this to a certain extent rules out the language confusion on the part of the court.
This month in Bradford Telegraph and Angus we have another report of a trial collapsing after a Czech speaker was sent to interpret for a Slovakian defendant in Bradford Crown Court. Recorder Christopher Storey QC is quoted as saying that it was “contrary to the interests of justice” to continue the proceedings. The jury was dismissed.
Just these three stories given above as examples make you think that considering the sheer number of cases where wrong language interpreters were sent by ALS, it cannot be simply put down to an administrative error. As a matter of fact, the question arises whether ALS gets paid after supplying wrong language interpreters and whether such cases count as “interpreter attended” in their own statistics they subsequently pass on to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). There is an interesting NB in the Framework Agreement on Page 137: "NB if the interpreter is actually on site as booked and the interpretation doesn’t go ahead, we implement just a one-hour charge. This is classified as a “did not attend” by the collaborative partner/detained person". So does ALS get paid for sending wrong language linguists and tick the box “service provided”?
As spokespeople for the MoJ continue repeating the same line about ALS performance improving, articles contrary to this statement never leave local newspapers. One was published by Peterborough Telegraph last week when a serious case at Peterborough Crown Court was disrupted after only one Lithuanian interpreter arrived in court late. A story in a Cornish newspaper this week reveals that three men had to be remanded as no interpreter showed up.
How many more news articles does the MoJ need to see that all is not well in their kingdom or does the stonewalling strategy suit them better?