Your Capita Wants YOU [but your country doesn’t]
Here are the contents of an email I recently received from Capita:
I am writing to inform you that Capita Translation and Interpreting are currently working with the Ministry of Justice Framework and the NHS, by supplying interpreters from a variety of languages.
I would like to offer you the opportunity to register with Applied Language Solutions.
If you have the suitable qualifications or experience of interpreting within the public sector (paid/voluntary), please register with us at:
Talkbase.net - NHS (Qualifications are not always necessary)
Linguistlounge.com - Ministry of Justice (Please note, in order to work within The Ministry of Justice you must hold at least a basic interpreting qualification)
After registering with us, you can complete your registration by emailing me with the following information:
1. Security clearance (e.g. enhanced CRB, NPPV CTC) - NOTE: This can be obtained for you if you don't currently have one in place. Please indicate if this is the case.
2. Interpreting and any other relevant Qualifications held. (e.g. DPSI) - NOTE: You must hold at least a basic interpreting qualification for the MOJ framework.
3. Proof of National Insurance Number (e.g. NI card or payslip)
4. Two references (at least one business related)
5. Proof of interpreting hours worked (this can be covered in a reference or invoice)
6. Passport size photograph (Your online profile will remain at 85% complete until we upload your photograph. This photograph will also be used for your ID card)
7. Any relevant membership of professional bodies (e.g. NRPSI)
Numbers 1 to 6 are mandatory for us to complete your registration, only Number 7 is non essential, the Membership of Professional Bodies.
You can send this information by email *** or by post FAO Interpreting Department, New Linguists, Capita Translation and Interpreting, Riverside Court, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham, OL3 5FZ.
If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
The mere fact that Capita feels moved to tempt an NRPSI with this opportunity to register should give us heart. Capita’s coverage is still shocking. Last November a Bulgarian case at Hatfield Remand Court was adjourned without an interpreter to St Alban’s MC. It was only after three more attempts at St Alban’s that they finally found someone. This month an interpreter of, possibly, Urdu, was summoned down from Manchester to the West Midlands for a police job. So, no interpreters of Asian languages in, say, Leicester? Really? Incidentally, I trust all No-Shows go down separately in the statistics. I mean, let’s assume the staff at Hatfield/St Alban’s didn’t cancel that Bulgarian booking on any of the relevant days (don’t get us started on cancellations!). If that same initial Hatfield booking was kept open until it was fulfilled (at the fourth attempt), does it go down as just ‘1 fulfilment’ or as ‘3 failures and 1 fulfilment’? I hope it’s the latter but I don’t feel sure of anything these days. I presume the portal records each ‘attempt’ as separate cases.
Returning to the email, it is worth looking at its tenor, tone, and language in detail. The language lacks rigour and is shot through with advertising fluff. For instance, shouldn’t the phrase a variety of languages be all possible languages? Or would that sound too desperate? Nor is the language tight enough. In the sentence if you have the suitable qualifications or experience of interpreting the phrase the suitable qualifications is clumsy. What the writer meant was ‘the appropriate qualifications’ or just ‘suitable qualifications’. Furthermore, in the same sentence, the word or might be a mistake for and. Actually, on second thoughts, knowing Capita, or probably was intended. They would claim ‘experience alone’ was necessary for the NHS sector while ‘experience and qualifications’ were necessary for the Framework sector. Later on we learn that ‘qualifications’ (number 2) and ‘experience’ (number 5) are both mandatory for registration. At one point the DPSI is given as an example of an acceptable qualification, yet elsewhere it seems only a basic interpreter qualification is needed to work for HMCTS. The problem is that this email is trying to do two incompatible things at once: recruit for the CJS contracts and recruit for the NHS contracts. The differences in qualifications/experience required to interpret in these two spheres force (or allow) the email to fudge the issues. In essence THEY DON’T WANT TO PUT ANYONE OFF applying to register with ALS [note they still call the business ‘Applied Language Solutions’]. One assumes those who are (strictly speaking) able to undertake only NHS jobs could nevertheless sneak into Tier 3 on the MoJ contract.
Regarding that basic qualification to work in in the HMCTS sphere are Capita referring to a Community Interpreting Level 3 Diploma? According to one college this would provide ‘familiarity with the language used in some (!) of the public services’. As part of the course the interpreter ‘will be introduced to various [that word again!] public services, such as The Health Service and Education Services [but not the courts?]’. Total attendance time would be 30 hours. Total study time would be 60 hours. Following completion of the course the interpreter would have ‘the opportunity to register’ [those words again!] on a website available to service requesters. Do these people swallow the same advertising jargon pill?
Moving on, it seems any old security clearance will do. The NPPV (Non-Police Personnel Vetting) is a form of clearance specific to police work. It is divided into three levels [somehow I knew three tiers would be involved]. According to one police force ‘Level 1 applies to those persons having unsupervised access to police premises on an ad hoc and irregular basis but no access to any electronic systems and/or hard copy material. In the main this applies to utility workers such as plumbers, electricians etc and may, on occasions, apply to individuals on work experience etc if they have NO access to protectively marked information or electronic systems’.
So NPPV Level 1 is for students and tradesmen (no slur on them is intended or should be assumed). Note also that Capita is very, very happy to sort out your security clearance itself. Would that be because it has the contract to provide recruitment security vetting (Capita Recruitment Vetting Services)? Isn’t there a gross conflict of interest in Capita being a CRB umbrella organisation, and simultaneously a company that is desperate to provide clearance certificates for agency staff that it finds very hard to recruit? Am I missing something?
The overall lack of clarity on the issue of qualifications relates more broadly to the issue of differentiated databases as illustrated by the tale of Frederic & Ferdinan (see the earlier posts ‘What Do They Know’ & ‘Statistics, Damned Statistics & the Truth’). As far as I can tell, the Capita/ALS database for the police contracts (West Midlands, Staffordshire, North-West) is identical to (or fused with) the database for the MoJ Framework contract. Otherwise the statistics for the different contracts would be interdistinguishable. Which, according to the MoJ themselves, they are not (see supplementary submissions to the Justice Select Committee enquiry, CI 77, section 2). One has to wonder now if the (unhelpfully) combined CJS database at ALS is not further contaminated with the details of NHS-only interpreters. An earlier post on this website from July 2nd 2012 [‘Judge Demands answers from Court Interpreter Supplier’] suggested ALS/Capita interpreters were able to double-book themselves to an extraordinary degree. In the case in question a failure to honour a Crown Court booking was due to the fact that an interpreter ‘had accepted three other [NHS] jobs through a separate arm of ALS’. These other jobs consisted of three morning NHS appointments, at 07.30 [Doctor’s surgery? Well, not impossible], 10, & 11. When ALS were hauled over the coals about this by Judge Madge at Peterborough, they said they had been unable to foresee the impending disaster because ‘there is no link between the two booking systems [NHS & Framework]’. Most interestingly however the ALS representative also said ‘systems were being looked at to try and ensure there were no more double bookings’. Surely the only way to guarantee no more such double-bookings is to integrate the NHS & CJS databases? But in doing this would not the company be risking under-qualified or unqualified NHS interpreters selecting CJS jobs?
There seem to be no checks and balances at Capita/ALS, and this email we are discussing here seems only to muddy the waters still further. The email does not make it crystal clear that NHS interpreters should register at ‘Talkbase’ and Framework interpreters at ‘LinguistLounge’. Talkbase.net is ALS’s old 2007 registration portal (see prleap.com/pr/84600/). I have checked Capita’s Interpreters’ Handbook & cannot see where it says that Talkbase is only for NHS interpreters. Unfortunately (and tellingly) the edition on their website is that of May 2009, while a later one (January 2010) is downloadable on docstoc.com/docs/72941978/INTERPRETER-HANDBOOK. In general nothing gives me confidence that Capita is keeping Tweedledee separate from Tweedledom. As they should be doing.
By the way, how come these handbooks are so out of date? They both pre-date the Framework by years.
Regarding references, what does ‘business related’ mean? Any old business? If I get a note from the assistant tea-stirrer’s mate at the house I am helping to renovate (saying that I am a good labourer) is that enough to prove I am a good interpreter? I realise that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but sometimes you are driven to it.
The ‘non-essentiality’ of belonging to a regulatory interpreter body speaks volumes about Capita. Meanwhile note the laughable notion that one’s registration is only ‘85% complete’ until one’s photograph is provided. If I provide snapshots of my right eye, left earlobe, and Adam’s apple, does that mean my registration will be 88% complete? How detailed does my face need to be to reach 15% of my total registration data? This person (like me) has been spending too much time gazing at the HMRC Self-Assessment pages (‘Your return is 95% complete’). This is what happens when Mr Folly tries to be Mr Clever Clogs.