Archive for the ‘News’ Category

2017.02.07 Reply to D.Supt. Baldock, Staff Officer to MPS Commissioner

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Dear D.Supt. Baldock

Thank you for your response.

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)’s e-mail was sent to all Chief Constables in England and Wales.

It is important that the Commissioner, as the present head of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, is made aware of this e-mail, in particular in light of the MPS Language and Cultural Services Interpreters and Translators’ December Bulletin which mentioned the forthcoming review of the services provided by LCS at the beginning of 2017 (see extract copied below).

One of the challenges faced by police forces in the context of language services is to RETAIN the services of fully qualified, vetted, reliable and professional interpreters.

PI4J’s submissions refer to the current wave of outsourcing of police interpreting services. Recently a number of Police Forces have joined in new collaborative arrangements and are in the process of reviewing and finalising their procurement of translation and interpreting services, through a system of competitive tendering where the lowest bidder wins.

It is widely known and publicised that many commercial translation and interpreting agencies are supplying unqualified, inexperienced and incompetent interpreters to Police Authorities and the Courts, resulting in disruptions, delays, additional costs and possible miscarriages of justice.

This outsourcing has taken place without proper consultation with the interpreters currently working for these police forces or their representative bodies, and is leading to wholly unsustainable rates and working terms and conditions resulting in a massive market exit of qualified and experienced interpreters who are transferring their skills and expertise elsewhere.

Although we understand the need for police forces to increase efficiency and reduce costs, we have a direct interest in the most important aspect – that of maintaining the fitness for purpose of police interpreting provision with a view to protect the public.

Legal interpreters are an essential part of the justice system, and their efficient integration into legal proceedings is crucial to ensuring fairness and efficiency of justice.

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, with over 300 languages spoken in it and more than 50 different communities. They need to be protected and their rights observed. They must be afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support. The needs of a city of this size cannot be compared to any other in the UK.

The MPS’ Language Services has always been put forward by PI4J as the example for other police forces to follow. The MPS achieved significant savings without outsourcing their language services, by streamlining and improving efficiency of their linguistic support services through their innovative Language Programme set up in 2008 to modernise the linguistic and cultural services in the MPS.

As a result expenditure on language services was cut back to 2004 levels through good management, whilst maintaining stringent standards of quality and procedures.

They introduced an Interpreter Deployment Team acting as a single point of contact (SPOC) to coordinate demand 24/7/365 and installed a video-conference platform to ensure greater access to linguists.

The use of remote interpreting whereby interpreters work from central videoconference hubs is a crucial project in the MPS Language Programme and continues to have a high strategic significance within the MPS.

This may expand further in view of the main revision to PACE Code C, which is to expressly permit the use of live-link communications technology for interpreters. The changes enable interpretation services to be provided by interpreters based at remote locations and allow access to be shared by forces throughout England and Wales, aiming to reduce delays in the investigation and improve availability for all languages.

In addition, the Met already has a very comprehensive system of accrediting and using legal interpreters, ensuring interpreting quality, vetting to a high level, impartiality and cost-effectiveness of interpreting services provided to the London public, 95% of which is of an evidential nature and nearly 40% of interpreting and translation services are used to assist vulnerable people, victims and witnesses.

The MPS list of Official Interpreters has been in existence for a very long time and has served the MPS and the public of the Metropolis well. These are professional interpreters with academic qualifications and proven experience of interpreting within the criminal justice system. Some were awarded the highest commendations available to them and many receive very positive feedback regarding their work, commitment and professionalism. They are subject to strict guidelines issued by the MPS as well as the NRPSI Code of Conduct since registration is mandatory, and are paid rates which are commensurate with their skills and the degree of responsibility of their work.

The MPS is also different to any other Police Force in that it consults with the linguistic and cultural experts in their field, the Met interpreters themselves.

LCS holds regular meetings with the Metropolitan Police interpreters’ representative body, the Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters (SOMI UK), both with its Board and Membership. This has been very constructive and informative for both sides, leading to a better understanding of the issues affecting interpreters’ work on the ground and dealing with them in a positive and forward-thinking manner.

All the above factors need to be taken into consideration when the time comes for the MPS to review the future of Language and Cultural Services and the linguistic support given to the Metropolis.

When the Ministry of Justice outsourced their language provision to a widely discredited commercial intermediary in 2012, Capita-TI, it resulted in widely published chaos and the adjournment of more than 2.600 court cases over five years due to failures in interpreting services. This is an ongoing problem now the contract was awarded to another commercial agency, thebigword.

It also resulted in massive disruption and a huge exit from the market of fully qualified, vetted, skilled and experienced interpreters who have refused to work for the rates on offer and also refuse to work for other low-paying agencies which show little regard for quality and standards. Among those who have stopped working for the UK Courts and Tribunals are many of the interpreters currently still providing a service to the MPS.

Treating interpreting services as a cheap commodity will not secure the services of highly skilled professional interpreters, which in effect help the industry save money.

Indeed, what is most needed is the regulation and professionalisation of interpreting and translation in the criminal justice sector. It is the only way forward.

Yours sincerely,

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)

Extract from the LCS Interpreter & Translator Bulletin 5 – December 2016
In the last bulletin I mentioned no detailed discussion has taken place and no decision has been made on the future of Language and Cultural Services (LCS) and if the current provision of Linguistic support to the MPS will continue in the same format.

I have now been informed the MPS is likely to review the services provided by LCS at the beginning of 2017. This review is dependent on all previous work around other MPS projects being completed on time and the MPS making the project specialists available to LCS.

This review will include any assessment of the three Language contract/frameworks and how the MPS sources its Language provision to meet the MPS demand and standards. This will include reviewing the current process of maintaining an MPS List.

2017.01.26 PI4J email to Warwickshire and West Mercia Police re outsourcing of Language Services

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Alliance

Chief Constable Martin Jelley
Warwickshire Police
By email: martin.jelley@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham
West Mercia Police
By email: anthony.bangham@westmercia.pnn.police.uk
26 January 2017

Dear Chief Constable Jelley and Chief Constable Bangham

Re: West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Alliance language services

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) is an umbrella group representing over 2,500 interpreters from both the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI). Our aim is to work with government to ensure the quality of interpreting available to the Justice System and in the Public Sector.
Reliable communication provided by qualified professional interpreters and translators is an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld for non-English speakers and deaf people. This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed.
PI4J has been at the forefront of the professional interpreters’ campaign against the unacceptable lowering of standards and quality in public service.

PI4J has become aware that the Warwickshire and West Mercia Police Forces are in the process of reviewing the procurement of translation and interpreting services.

Currently both Forces source local interpreters and translators directly from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) which maintain registers of professional, qualified and accountable legal interpreters. Payment rates are set in accordance with ACPO guidance issued in 2009. We believe this system has served you well for many years and there have not been any supply or quality issues.

However, Warwickshire Police’s response to a recent Freedom of Information Request for details of any procurement exercise aimed to shape the future strategy in relation to language services, indicated that it is currently participating in a collaborative further competition conducted through the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Language Services Framework RM1092, aimed to be completed during January 2017 and implemented in April 2017.

PI4J has grave concerns in relation to the outsourcing of language services to commercial agencies.

Although we understand the need for police forces to increase efficiency and reduce costs, we have a direct interest in the most important aspect – that of maintaining the quality and fitness for purpose of public service interpreting provision with a view to protect the public.

This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed for profit by agencies, as is demonstrated in the UK courts where the Ministry of Justice’s outsourcing of interpreting services through a widely discredited commercial contract since 2012 has and continues to cause untold problems due to failures to provide interpreters or through the supply of unqualified, inexperienced and incompetent interpreters, resulting in disruptions and delays to criminal trials.
It has also led to a massive market exit of skilled and experienced interpreters in that sector. These interpreters are still currently providing services for Police Forces such as yours.

PI4J strongly believes that outsourcing of language services to the private sector is not the solution for the current issues faced by the UK police forces. We believe that a system of competitive tendering where the lowest bidder wins will lead to unfavourable terms and conditions for legal interpreters, who can and will transfer their expertise to other areas of work as they are self-employed independent professionals.

Not-for-profit alternatives must be considered. Setting up a booking and payment centre to provide services efficiently and effectively whilst preserving the National Agreement on Arrangements for the use of Interpreters (NA) and the independent regulatory bodies would lead to significant savings and would not have a detrimental effect on the delivery of justice.

One example of how this can be achieved is the Metropolitan Police Service, which has achieved significant savings by streamlining their system. Their interpreters are subject to strict guidelines and the NRPSI Code of Conduct, but are also paid rates which are commensurate with their skills and the degree of responsibility of their work.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has also been able to produce year-on-year savings on interpreting costs by means of careful cost management and efficiency savings. The force enjoys an excellent relationship with its interpreters and is not plagued by availability problems.

Equally, the Welsh forces have been able to achieve savings of between 30 and 50% by working with the not-for-profit Wales Interpretation and Translation Service (WITS).

One of PI4J’s aims is to work with the government to ensure quality and standards of interpreting available to the Criminal Justice System and to provide guidelines to public service providers in respect of their language service provision.

In April 2016 Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) made strong representations to both Warwickshire and West Mercia Police Forces by email indicating our position in relation to outsourcing of language services and the use of framework agreements, including the CCS. Please see attached copy of our letter to you, which was also forwarded to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Following on from this, PI4J representatives, including the NRPSI, met with the NPCC Strategic Group for Language Services on 11 November 2016 at the Home Office. This meeting was attended by Ian Fraser (National Procurement Lead), Sally Conquest (Home Office Lead), Barry Nicholson (Metropolitan Police Lead for Language Services) and DCI Sarah Shrubshall (Staff Officer to CC Cole, NPCC Lead for Language Services).

There was a positive exchange of views and a further meeting is to be arranged in March/April of this year. It is hoped it will become a regular event, to the benefit of both parties. We understand that the NPCC National Working Group on Languages was informed about the focus of our discussions at this meeting, and we trust this information was forwarded to you.

We wish to reiterate the main points made by PI4J during this meeting in relation to the essential aspects which should be enforced by all Police Forces when considering their provision of language services.

These were set out in our follow-up email to the NPCC Strategic Group for Language Services (copy attached).

These include:
- Police Forces’ observance of the National Agreement (NA) on Arrangements for the use of Interpreters in the CJS (revised 2007). The NA provides guidance on arranging suitably qualified interpreters when the requirements of Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) apply.
- A requirement for all interpreters providing services to police forces to be registered with the profession’s regulatory bodies (NRPSI and NRCPD), in the same way the Metropolitan Police Service does.
- Both NRPSI and NRCPD exist to protect the public by regulating communication and language professionals.
- All Registrants are subject to the regulatory bodies’ Code of Professional Conduct and allegations of professional misconduct are investigated by the Disciplinary Committee, at no cost to service providers.
- Vetting to the appropriate level must be facilitated for all interpreters registered with the regulatory bodies NRPSI and NRCPD.
- Just as important is that sustainable rates of pay must be maintained for interpreters and translators in order to retain the number of interpreters currently working and attract new interpreters to the profession.

The use of the National Agreement and mandatory NRPSI/NRCPD registration will support the regulation and professionalisation of interpreting in the criminal justice sector.

The aim is for regulation by law and protection of title. This is to ensure high standards and a qualification based selection, and offers protection to both the interpreter and Police Forces since registered interpreters are suitably qualified and vetted.

We ask that you maintain all the necessary safeguards to ensure the quality and standards of such a vital service provided to members of the public, whether they are victims, witnesses or suspects, and include many vulnerable people.

Without appropriate safeguards to protect and uphold basic human rights, the interests of justice cannot be served for those who cannot understand the proceedings.

PI4J would be very happy to meet with you to assist in the review. We believe that we can provide you with valuable support in maintaining the appropriate level of quality police service and public protection.

We look forward to hearing from you further.

Yours sincerely,

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)

PI4J: What are we asking for?
1. The use of qualified interpreters
2. Full consultation with the interpreting profession
3. Sustainable terms and conditions to be offered to interpreters
4. Independent auditing of quality and performance
5. Independent regulators: Regulation and the maintenance of registers should not be in the hands of private providers
6. Minimum levels of interpreter qualification
7. Statutory protection of title
Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) Member Organisations:
Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) – chairman@apciinterpreters.org.uk
Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru; (CCC) – geraint@cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk
Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) – chiefexec@iti.org.uk
National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) – chairman@nrpsi.org.uk
National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators, part of Unite the Union (NUPIT) – nupit@unitetheunion.org
National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters part of Unite the Union (NUBSLI) – branchsecretary@nubsli.com
Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI) – board@somiukltd.com
The Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) – keith.moffitt@ciol.org.uk

2017.01.26 PI4J email to all Police Forces in England and Wales

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

26 January 2017

Dear Sir/Madam

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) is an umbrella group representing over 2,500 interpreters from both the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI). Our aim is to work with government to ensure the quality of interpreting available to the Justice System and in the Public Sector.

Reliable communication provided by qualified professional interpreters and translators is an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld for non-English speakers and deaf people. This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed.

PI4J has been at the forefront of the professional interpreters’ campaign against the unacceptable lowering of standards and quality in public service.

Re: Outsourcing of Police Interpreting Services

PI4J is sending this e-mail to all the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables in England and Wales, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Languages and the NPCC Strategic Group for Language Services, and to the procurement leads and regional decision makers we have managed to identify to date.

Police forces are facing many challenges at this time, and one of them in the context of language services is to RETAIN the services of fully qualified, vetted, reliable and professional interpreters.

Interpreters are an essential part of the justice system. Without appropriate quality safeguards, access to justice will be denied and human rights and race relations will be adversely affected.

PI4J have become aware that a number of Police Forces have joined in new collaborative arrangements and are in the process of reviewing and finalising their procurement of translation and interpreting services, without proper consultation with interpreters or their representative bodies.

These include Warwickshire and West Mercia Police Alliance, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Sussex Police and other police forces that are currently sourcing local interpreters and translators directly from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), which maintain registers of highly professional, fully qualified, vetted and accountable legal interpreters.

We believe this system has been serving them well for many years and there have not been any supply or quality issues as they offer sustainable payment rates and have forged sound working relationships with the interpreters who supported them over the years. The Alliance payment rates are based on the 2009 ACPO guidance which includes full and reasonable payment for travel time and expenses and are a reflection and based on the principles of a ‘’living wage’’.

For information, please see attached PI4J’s letter sent to the West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Alliance in respect of their outsourcing plans, as well as a copy of our email to the NPCC Strategic Group for Language Services after our meeting with them in November 2016.

Other police forces currently reviewing their language provision are those using the Thames Valley Police contract with Language Line Solutions Ltd, which also mandates the use of NRPSI and NRCPD registered interpreters. As a result they were able to provide a very good standard of service.
Although this contract saw a cut in payment rates in recent years, they were still considered acceptable to many professional interpreters who have continued to work for them.

PI4J has for a number of years advised the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice of the importance of keeping to the guidance offered by the National Agreement (NA) on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters, Translators and Language Service Professionals in Investigations and Proceedings within the Criminal Justice System, which represented the culmination of the recommendations of a series of reviews of civil and criminal justice and was produced in consultation with the Interpreters Working Group, which included representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts Service, the Probation Service, Home Office, Magistrates’ Association, the Bar Council and the Law Society, as well as representatives of interpreter bodies.

It is our contention that the National Agreement should be fully implemented to safeguard justice.

The NA requires that only fully qualified and vetted interpreters registered with the NRPSI and NRCPD are used, with corresponding professional standards and safeguards and subject to a Code of Conduct. Please note that these regulatory bodies provide a disciplinary procedure for their registrants, which is free of charge for the service providers using them.

In November 2014 the Ministry of Justice published a report entitled “Independent Review of Quality Arrangements under the MoJ Language Services Framework Agreement”, on the recommendation of PI4J following years of campaigning to raise standards of interpreting in the Criminal Justice System.

Part of PI4J’s campaign since 2012 focused on the MoJ/Capita-TI Framework Agreement, described by politicians as a “car crash” and “nothing short of shambolic”, and subjected to inquiries by the National Audit Office, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee and the Justice Select Committee.

It is widely known that many commercial translation and interpreting agencies are supplying inexperienced and unqualified interpreters to Police Authorities and the Courts, resulting in delays (and additional costs) and possible miscarriages of justice.

To our great dismay we have now received information that, whilst completely ignoring all the widely published information available to them, Thames Valley Police, Hampshire Constabulary, Surrey Police and Sussex Police have signed a contract with Capita-TI to commence at the end of February 2017.

This is the very same widely discredited agency contracted by the MoJ which has been responsible for the adjournment of thousands of court cases due to failures in interpreting services, affecting more than 2,600 cases over five years.

This has resulted in massive disruption and a huge exit from the market of fully qualified, vetted, skilled and experienced interpreters who have refused to work for the rates on offer and also refuse to work for other low-paying agencies which show little regard for quality and standards.

PI4J have now been informed of the derisory rates on offer by Capita-TI to NRPSI interpreters in relation to the new contract with Thames Valley, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex Police. These are completely unacceptable and unsustainable for any professional legal interpreter, who as self-employed professionals can and will apply their expertise in other areas of work, thus depleting the already suffering industry of even more solid professional interpreters.

The potential risks and possible liability to the industry as a result of implementing such pay rates could push the profession over the cliff edge, something which has been building up for a number of years now, and could also result in this becoming the final nail in the coffin for the profession and its standards, ethics and workmanship.

The message is quite simple: unless offered sustainable rates and fair terms and working conditions, fully qualified professional legal interpreters will not be available under any appalling terms of engagement as proposed.

It needs to be remembered that police interpreters’ rates have not seen an increase in line with inflation for at least 10 years.

Rates must remain commensurate with professional interpreters’ skills and expertise. In addition, a minimum call-out time of two hours, full payment for all travel time and full reimbursement of any travelling expenses must be mandatory to ensure that interpreters do not end up subsidising the state or earning below the “minimum wage” as is currently happening under the MoJ contract with thebigword Ltd or Capita-TI.

Gross hourly rates paid to self-employed interpreters are to liable Income Tax and National Insurance, with the additional disincentives of no pension, holiday or sick pay, as well as no job security. There are further costs with professional registration and membership associations, and investment in continuous professional development.

It is implicit that the service is going to deteriorate because of the standard of individuals who will work instead of professional interpreters under those unsustainable terms of engagement.

Treating interpreting services as a cheap commodity will not secure the services of highly skilled professional interpreters, which in effect help the industry save money, when the payment rates offered by most of the exploitative agencies currently being contracted by the public sector are so low as to be below the “living wage”.

Police Forces must ensure that public money is spent in a responsible manner and they must support fair, ethical, transparent and professional business practices in respect of services which have a fundamental impact on the lives of their communities.

Robust standards need to be set and vigorously enforced in order to protect the public and those we serve, which include many vulnerable people, victims and witnesses in the community and justice sector. They must be afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support.
It is in the interest of justice and of the utmost urgency that a new National Interpreter Services Working Group is set up to deal with all matters relating to Language Services in the Criminal Justice System, as it will be the only way to avoid a complete disintegration of the remaining quality and standards. Such working group should include representatives of the interpreters’ professional bodies.

PI4J would be very happy to arrange a meeting to discuss the issues above.

Yours faithfully,

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)

PI4J: What are we asking for?
1. The use of qualified interpreters
2. Full consultation with the interpreting profession
3. Sustainable terms and conditions to be offered to interpreters
4. Independent auditing of quality and performance
5. Independent regulators: Regulation and the maintenance of registers should not be in the hands of private providers
6. Minimum levels of interpreter qualification
7. Statutory protection of title

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) Member Organisations:

Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) – chairman@apciinterpreters.org.uk
Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru; (CCC) – geraint@cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk
Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) – chiefexec@iti.org.uk
National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) – chairman@nrpsi.org.uk
National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators, part of Unite the Union (NUPIT) – nupit@unitetheunion.org
National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters part of Unite the Union (NUBSLI) – branchsecretary@nubsli.com
Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI) – board@somiukltd.com
The Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) – keith.moffitt@ciol.org.uk

National Agreement on Arrangements for the use of Interpreters in the CJS (Revised 2007)

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Links:
National Agreement on Arrangements for the use of Interpreters in the CJS (Revised 2007)
National Agreement Terms & Conditions (Revised 2007))

The National Agreement on the Arrangements for the use of Interpreters and Translators in the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales was revised in 2007. A copy of this agreement is available at the National Archive website.

The NA was produced in consultation with the Interpreters Working Group, which includes representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts Service, the Probation Service, Home Office, Magistrates’ Association, the Bar Council and the Law Society, as well as representatives of interpreter bodies.

The need to up-date the 2002 version of the National Agreement was identified by criminal justice agencies and interpreter bodies represented on the Interpreter Working Group, and is the result of a collaborative process over many months. The participants have included all the main spoken language and LSP (for deaf and deafened clients) organisations, as well as representatives of the criminal justice services. The IoL, IoLET and NRPSI have been privileged to contribute, along with others. The agreement is being made available to all those who have contributed and we shall play our part in its dissemination.

The Agreement reflects the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 and emphasises the requirement to check the competency of an interpreter. In all cases, Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires that an interpreter in criminal proceedings be fully competent for the task assigned.

NA provides guidance on arranging suitably qualified interpreters when the requirements of Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) apply.

It emphasises that face-to-face interpreters used in this context should be registered with NRPSI and NRCPD. It covers a number of related issues including security vetting, terms and conditions.

Response from MPS LCS to PI4J’s email dated 20.04.2016

Monday, September 26th, 2016

2016.04.27 Response MPS Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to PI4J

Professional Interpreters for Justice

17 May 2016

Barry Nicholson
Metropolitan Police Service
Language and Cultural Services
8 Floor Empress State Building,
Empress Approach,
Lillie Road,
Earls Court,
London
SW6 1TR

Dear Professional Interpreters for Justice

Thank you for your letter dated 20 April 2016 which you sent by e-mail to the Commissioner and myself.

I have responsibility for the delivery of Language Services on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

On behalf of the Commissioner, I have been asked to respond to your letter which outlined your objectives and concerns regarding the provision of interpreting services.

I have noted your comments and concerns regarding the National review of the provision of interpreters for policing and the use of the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) language frameworks.

Thank you for recognising the work of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Language and Cultural Services and for putting us forward as an example to other police forces in the UK to follow. Language and Cultural Services (LCS) have worked hard to maintain quality whilst reducing the overall cost of providing the service for the MPS.

The MPS currently manages a list of suitably qualified interpreters (Approximately 450) who are registered with the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI)

As you are aware we meet and communicate regularly with the Society of Metropolitan Police Interpreters (SOMI UK).

This engagement allows a discussion about the current provision of interpreters for the MPS, any proposed changes and to receive feedback from the interpreters representative group of any concerns. I value this opportunity of working with the interpreters to improve the service we deliver.

In order to ensure MPS listed interpreters are kept informed of changes within the MPS and any issues impacting on the delivery of Language Services I wrote to them all in March 2016. I know Members of SOMI UK received a copy of the bulletin as I received feedback from the group.

The content of the bulletin included highlighting the ongoing financial challenges for Public Services (including Police Forces) during the next financial year and to provide some headline news on the volumes of MPS interpreter assignments during the last financial year. The demand for Interpreting services has not changed significantly within the MPS in the last few years.

I also included information of the Collaborative Law Enforcement Programme (CLEP), which also includes Languages.

I have recently been included in the CLEP – Language Board chaired by Chief Constable Simon Cole (Leicestershire Constabulary) where I have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing debate on Language provision.

The MPS currently manages a list of suitably qualified interpreters and do not use a framework to procure the service for face to face interpreters at this time. No decisions have been made yet to procure the services from a Language framework at this time. However the MPS will have to assess the new frameworks in due course to see if they meet the MPS requirements and provide best value.

I note your concerns and comments regarding the MoJ and CCS Language Framework but feel it is inappropriate for the MPS to comment. I am aware CCS has responded to address concerns raised in your letter.

I will continue to engage and communicate with SOMI UK in order to keep them informed of any potential future changes to the delivery of the MPS Language Service.

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information

Yours sincerely,

Barry Nicholson
MPS Language Services

PI4J’s e-mail to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Chief Constable Simon Cole
Leicestershire Police
National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) lead for Languages

By email: Simon.Cole@leicestershire.pnn.police.uk

CC: Chief Constable Sara Thornton of Thames Valley Police, NPCC Chair, info@npcc.pnn.police.uk
CC: Mr Ian Fraser, Head of Procurement responsible for interpreting and translation services, Ian.Fraser@leics.pcc.pnn.gov.uk

Dear Mr Cole,

Please find below and attached the submissions in relation to the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Language Services Framework Agreement (FWA) made on behalf of the following representative bodies which are members of Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J):

· Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI)
· Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)
· Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru (CCC)
· Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)
· National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI)
· National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators, part of Unite the Union (NUPIT)
· National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, part of Unite the Union (NUBSLI)
· Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI)

We understand that the CCS has informed the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) that interpreters and their representative bodies are ‘on-board’ and support their Language Services FWA.

This is not the case.

On 25 March 2015 PI4J sent an email to the CCS outlining our position with regard to the CCS Language Services FWA.

Our correspondence made it very clear that we cannot support any arrangements or FWA which does not fully take into consideration all our submissions in respect of minimum professional qualifications for Public Service Interpreters (PSI) and BSL/English Interpreters, Deaf interpreters and Sign Language translators, mandatory NRPSI/NRCPD/SASLI registration, and independent regulation and quality and performance auditing.

This FWA has not incorporated all our suggestions and concerns into the specifications and we do not believe it will fulfil the language demand and standards requirements for the Police Forces and other agencies serving the Criminal Justice System.

Just as important are sustainable and fair rates of pay for interpreters, which do not discriminate between spoken language and BSL interpreters.

We believe that a system of competitive tendering where the lowest bidder wins will lead to unfavourable terms and conditions for legal interpreters, who can and will transfer their expertise to other areas of work as they are self-employed independent professionals.

Interpreters have demonstrated this for the last four years by their ongoing refusal to work for the agency to which the Ministry of Justice outsourced their court interpreting service through a commercial contract which has been widely discredited, resulting in massive disruption and a market exit of skilled and experienced interpreters.

They have also refused to work for other low-paying agencies which show little regard for quality and standards.

The message is simple: unless interpreters are offered sustainable rates, they will boycott this contract too.

Interpreters are used by the police services for essential communication with the public, 95% of which is of an evidential nature for victims, witnesses and suspects and so is required to be of the highest standard. Failure to achieve the required standard will result in increased risks of, at the very least, unacceptable delays in justice and at worst, miscarriages of justice.

Either way it will be accompanied by increased costs (e.g. keeping people in custody or having to release suspects due to a lack of interpreters) and reductions in public confidence and satisfaction.

The only way to ensure quality of result for the victim and fairness for the perpetrator in any case is having good-quality interpreters, resulting in improved integrity of investigations and trials, better treatment of victims, witnesses and detainees, compliance with legal obligations, and good race relations.

We maintain that there could be more savings in the long term by investing in the establishment of a central government agency, which is “not for profit” and therefore does not seek to gain a pecuniary advantage from interpreters’ work. This may achieve a streamlining of the system and thereby utilise interpreter services in a more organised and efficient way—dealing with the process of identifying and booking individual interpreters, as well as with the payment process.

With this in mind, we urge you to review the Police National Guidance on the use of this and other similar framework agreements and/or contracts, and consider the alternative solutions which PI4J presents in the attached letter to Kent Police regarding their recent decision to outsource interpreting services to thebigword.

We also attach for your information a copy of our letter to the CCS as well as the PI4J Statement of Objectives, which clearly outlines our position.

We understand that procurement arrangements are left to the discretion of chief officers when determining an operational matter such as the individuals or organisations they use to provide services for their forces.

We therefore request that you please forward this email to all NPCC Members and other interested parties, in order to inform them of our submissions.

Yours sincerely,

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)

Can a Justice Provider provide justice or even save money?

Price competitive tendering has already been introduced into the criminal justice system. Court interpreting services were put out to tender. The cheapest tender won. Interpreting services in court since this was introduced are shambolic. It is common for the court and lawyers to wait all day at court for an interpreter to arrive. In a recent case a crown court was kept waiting for two days because the company providing interpreting services could not send an interpreter to court. Most interpreters who provided a professional service before refused to work for the low pay offered by the company. The quality of interpreters plummeted. The government have just bailed out the company who provides court interpreting services with tax payer’s money. More tax payer’s money has been wasted in keeping courts waiting for interpreters to attend.

This is the example that the government seeks to follow by introducing tendering to police services.

The Wrong Way to Interpret Justice

In a new report, the Association of Translation Companies(ATC) has demanded a major overhaul in how the public sector buys language services, so that “achieving value for money should not be at the expense of ensuring a high quality service.” According to the report, “the public sector is one of the largest users of language services in the UK” and “such services are essential for millions of people.”

At a time when the Crown Commercial Service and the Ministry of Justice are in the process of procuring language services worth hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for government departments the report points out that achieving value for money should not be at the expense of ensuring a high quality service, whilst a failure to provide satisfactory language services – translation, interpreting and signing – can cause extra cost to the public purse.

According to the ATC, a focus on saving money at the expense of service quality has also led to a ‘critical shortage’ of skilled language professionals unwilling to work in the public sector, meaning the government may struggle to meet its future language service requirements.

The users of interpretation services are among the most vulnerable communities in the country. Coupled with the fact that most service providers are self-employed independent professionals, both providers and beneficiaries are in a vulnerable position that is easy to exploit.

It was a fatal incident due to the provision of an interpreter for the wrong language and gender and cultural insensitivity on the part of the court system at the time that in part led to the creation of a National Register of Public Service Interpreters in 1994, and not market forces.

PI4J email re CCS Language Services Framework Agreement

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Email sent on behalf of Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) to Crown Commercial Service (CCS) 25 March 2015

Re CCS Language Services Framework Agreement

We are given to understand that the CCS will be moving forward with the tendering of the Framework Agreement (FWA) before the 30th March, without further consultation with or input from interpreters and their representative bodies.

PI4J wishes to make it clear that it cannot support any arrangements or FWA which does not fully take into consideration all our submissions in respect of minimum professional qualifications for Public Service Interpreters (PSI) and BSL/English Interpreters, Deaf interpreters and Sign Language translators, mandatory NRPSI/NRCPD/SASLI registration, and independent regulation and quality and performance auditing.

Without these safeguards, access to justice will be denied and human rights and race relations will be jeopardised.

Robust standards need to be set and vigorously enforced in order to protect the public and those we serve, which include many vulnerable people, victims and witnesses in the community and justice sector. They must be afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support.

In addition, we reiterate that in order to attract and retain qualified and experienced professional interpreters and language professionals, equitable and sustainable terms and conditions need to be put in place.

Our members have demonstrated in the last three years – since the Ministry of Justice’s outsourcing of the courts’ language services – that they can and will refuse to work for low rates set by so-called ‘market forces’, thereby significantly reducing the pool of qualified interpreters and translators available to work in the public services.

Any arrangements and/or framework agreement that may significantly impact on the delivery of communication and language services in the public sector and especially in the justice sector, must be designed with the utmost care and with full and adequate consultation with interpreters and language professionals and their representative bodies.

However, consultation without the implementation of our input is meaningless.

We refer you to the guidance set out in the National Agreement (NA) for the Use of Interpreters in the Criminal Justice System and its high standards of professional qualifications and registrations, which resulted from years of policy development, consultation and cooperation between members of the justice sector, their language services, interpreters, interpreters’ representative bodies and academic institutions.

Full support of professional interpreters is the only way forward to ensure the quality and success of any future arrangements for the provision of language services in the public service sectors.

FYI, please see attached a copy of the PI4J Manifesto which further details what we stand for.

For and on behalf of the Professional Interpreters for Justice

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) Member Organisations:

Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) – chairman@apciinterpreters.org.uk
Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru; (CCC) – geraint@cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk
Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) – chiefexec@iti.org.uk
National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) – chairman@nrpsi.org.uk
National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators, part of Unite the Union (NUPIT)
– nupit@unitetheunion.org
National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters part of Unite the Union (NUBSLI)
– branchsecretary@nubsli.com
Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI) – board@somiukltd.com
The Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) – keith.moffitt@ciol.org.uk

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) submissions re reduced rates of Home Office interpreters’ pay

Monday, December 28th, 2015

SOMI UK has responded to the Home Office plans to reduce interpreters’ rates through the Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) umbrella group, of which we are a member.

Sent by email on 21 December 2015:

Central Interpreters Unit
Interpreter Operations Unit
UK Visas & Immigration
The Capital
New Hall Place
Liverpool
L3 9PP

By Email: CIU@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Introduction of reduced rates of Home Office interpreters’ pay from 1st January 2016

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) is an umbrella group representing over 2,240 interpreters from both the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI). Our aim is to work with government to ensure the quality of interpreting available to the Justice System and in the Public Sector.

Reliable communication provided by qualified professional interpreters and translators is an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld for non-English speakers and deaf people. This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed.

On 20th November 2015 interpreters received a notice regarding a reduction in rates to due to take place on all bookings undertaken on behalf of the Home Office (HO), including UK Visas & Immigration, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and HM Passport Office and any other bookings made through Interpreter Operations Unit, from 1st January 2016 onwards.

PI4J is extremely concerned about this decision to slash interpreters’ rates of pay, without any consultation with or input from interpreters and their representative bodies.

This decision will most certainly have serious implications for the supply of competent, qualified professional interpreters to the Home Office. These interpreters have provided ongoing linguistic support and expertise to the Home Office over the years, including in many rare and hard-to-find languages.
Interpreters have demonstrated in the last four years that they can and will refuse to work for low rates set by so-called ‘market forces’, thereby significantly reducing the pool of qualified interpreters and translators available to work in the public services.

This is evidenced by the detrimental decline within the Ministry of Justice’s Court Interpreting Service since they outsourced to a private agency in 2012. We assume that you are aware of the extensive coverage in the media regarding the subsequent disruption and chaos visited upon the courts and the delays and collapse of court cases, resulting in an enormous waste of time and money and two Parliamentary hearings (see below links).

PI4J has been at the forefront of the professional interpreters’ campaign against the unacceptable lowering of standards and quality in public service.

The standard of interpretation is fundamental to allow access to a fair hearing and justice for vulnerable minorities in the asylum and immigration system and to assist enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime. They must be afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support.

Standards must include minimum professional qualifications for Public Service Interpreters (PSI) and BSL/English Interpreters, Deaf interpreters and Sign Language translators, to include mandatory NRPSI/NRCPD/SASLI registration and independent regulation.

Without these safeguards, access to justice will be denied and human rights and race relations will be jeopardised.

In addition, we reiterate that in order to attract and retain qualified and experienced professional interpreters and language professionals, equitable and sustainable terms and conditions need to be put in place.

Professional interpreters invest substantial time, effort and money to gain and maintain their skills.
The proposed cut means that Home Office interpreting work will become part of the low-paying industries.

It is important to point out that there has not been an increase in the Home Office interpreting rates for many years now. They were further eroded by inflation and the growing cost of living in the UK, especially in areas such as London. In addition, failure to provide reimbursement for travel time under 3 hours each way and travel expenses up to 100 miles, particularly in view of the remote locations of many of the Home Office and detainee centres, make the rates even more unattractive.

Remuneration must reflect the fact that these are gross hourly rates for self-employed interpreters, liable to pay Income Tax and National Insurance, who have no pension, holiday or sick pay, and no job security.

The impact of the cuts places interpreters’ livelihoods at risk and will mean that public service interpreting will no longer be a viable career. As skilled professionals they will seek to earn a better living in other sectors.

This in turn will result in reduced quality of language services and a back-log to a system which is already struggling.

Full support of professional interpreters and appropriate terms & conditions is the only way forward to ensure the quality and success of any future arrangements for the provision of language services in the public service sectors and to avoid a market exit.

In the interest of all involved and the system itself, we urge you to reconsider this troubling and counterproductive decision.

Yours faithfully,

Klasiena Slaney

For and on behalf of the Professional Interpreters for Justice

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) Member Organisations:

Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI) – chairman@apciinterpreters.org.uk
Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru; (CCC) – geraint@cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk
Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) – chiefexec@iti.org.uk
National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) – chairman@nrpsi.org.uk
National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators, part of Unite the Union (NUPIT)
– nupit@unitetheunion.org
National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters part of Unite the Union (NUBSLI)
– branchsecretary@nubsli.com
Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI) – board@somiukltd.com
The Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) – keith.moffitt@ciol.org.uk


Links:
Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J), includes links to Parliamentary hearings and dossiers of failings
RPSI Linguist Lounge and Professional Interpreters’ Alliance, collected news reports about the outsourcing of public service interpreting in the UK
National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI)
National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)
Scottish body for training and qualifying British Sign Language interpreters (SASLI)
National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI)

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) Manifesto and Statement

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

SOMI UK is a member of the Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J).

Please see below a recent statement made on behalf of the organisations which are part of it, as well as a link to PI4J’s recently published manifesto:

Professional interpreters cannot support any arrangements or FWA which does not fully take into consideration all our submissions in respect of minimum professional qualifications for Public Service Interpreters (PSI) and BSL/English Interpreters, Deaf interpreters and Sign Language translators, mandatory NRPSI/NRCPD/SASLI registration, and independent regulation and quality and performance auditing.

Without these safeguards, access to justice will be denied and human rights and race relations will be jeopardised.

Robust standards need to be set and vigorously enforced in order to protect the public and those we serve, which include many vulnerable people, victims and witnesses in the community and justice sector. They must be afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support.

In addition, we reiterate that in order to attract and retain qualified and experienced professional interpreters and language professionals, equitable and sustainable terms and conditions need to be put in place.

Our members have demonstrated in the last three years – since the Ministry of Justice’s outsourcing of the courts’ language services – that they can and will refuse to work for low rates set by so-called ‘market forces’, thereby significantly reducing the pool of qualified interpreters and translators available to work in the public services.

Any arrangements and/or framework agreement that may significantly impact on the delivery of communication and language services in the public sector and especially in the justice sector, must be designed with the utmost care and with full and adequate consultation with interpreters and language professionals and their representative bodies.

However, consultation without the implementation of our input is meaningless.

We refer you to the guidance set out in the National Agreement (NA) for the Use of Interpreters in the Criminal Justice System and its high standards of professional qualifications and registrations, which resulted from years of policy development, consultation and cooperation between members of the justice sector, their language services, interpreters, interpreters’ representative bodies and academic institutions.

Full support of professional interpreters is the only way forward to ensure the quality and success of any future arrangements for the provision of language services in the public service sectors.

FYI, please see below a link to the PI4J Manifesto which further details what we stand for.

Professional Interpreters for Justice manifesto MARCH 25, 2015

Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) is an umbrella group representing over 2,000 interpreters from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and 300 British Sign Language interpreters.

Our aim is to work with government to ensure the quality of interpreting available to the Justice System.

Reliable communication provided by qualified professional interpreters and translators is an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld for non-English Speakers and deaf people.

This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed for profit.

Current government policy is to reduce costs by outsourcing services.

PI4J: What are we asking for?

1. The use of qualified interpreters

2. Full consultation with the interpreting profession

3. Sustainable terms and conditions to be offered to interpreters

4. Independent auditing of quality and performance

5. Independent regulators: Regulation and the maintenance of registers should not be in the hands of private providers

6. Minimum levels of interpreter qualification

7. Statutory protection of title

PI4J: What are we asking for?

1. The use of qualified interpreters: Only qualified and experienced Public Service Interpreters to be
used within the current MoJ Languages Services Framework Agreement and in any future arrangements.

2. Full consultation with the interpreting profession: Future arrangements cannot succeed without the
support of professional interpreters.

3. Sustainable terms and conditions to be offered to interpreters: to ensure the success of any future
arrangements and quality of service.

4. Independent auditing of quality and performance: Credible scrutiny of contract management and
adherence to its provisions is essential, and should be part of the role of an independent Quality
Assurance and Quality Management body.

5. Independent regulators: Regulation and the maintenance of registers should not be in the hands of
private providers. In line with government guidance, since 1 April 2011 the NRPSI has been a fully
independent regulator of the profession, paid for by the interpreters and run solely in the public
interest. PI4J is of the view that the NRCPD should also be independent.

6. Minimum levels of interpreter qualification: Interpreter training as well as language fluency with a
minimum level of entry-level qualification must be required with skills maintained and developed
through a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Provision should be put in place
to encourage the supply of Rare Language interpreters.

7. Statutory protection of title: A working group must be set up to examine the feasibility of the
introduction of statutory protection for the title of Public Service Interpreter.

Click here for link to full PI4J manifesto

Response to Home Office consultation “Revised PACE codes of practice: C and H”

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

The Home Office
By email to pacereview@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

24 September 2013

Response to the open consultation “Revised PACE codes of practice: C and H”

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing on behalf of the Society of Official Metropolitan Interpreters UK Ltd (SOMI UK). Please consider our response below in conjunction with that of the Joint Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) of which we are a party.

All our members are official Metropolitan Police interpreters. Under the National Agreement on the use of Interpreters in the Criminal Justice System (NA), we are required to be on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) or the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD). We are vetted to CTC level or above by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). We are all professional interpreters with academic qualifications and proven experience of interpreting within the criminal and civil justice systems.

The comments below concern the Home Office consultation on the proposed changes to the PACE codes of practice C and H4 which aim to implement the EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, and in particular the ‘Notes for Guidance 13A” copied below.

Notes for Guidance
13A Chief officers have discretion when determining the individuals or organisations they use to provide interpretation and translation services for their forces provided that the services which are provided satisfy the requirements of the Directive. One example would be the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement for interpretation and translation services. Whenever possible, interpreters should be provided in accordance with national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State.

We strongly object to the following points:
• the inclusion in PACE of the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement as an example of services provided that satisfy the requirements of the Directive
• the deletion of the sentence stating that wherever possible, interpreters should be provided in accordance with national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State.

It is our contention that (i) the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement in PACE should not be cited as “an example of services that satisfy the requirements of the Directive” for the reasons explained below, and (ii) that the national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State should not be removed from PACE as this is counterproductive and not in the interest of justice.

An essential pre-requisite to achieving justice is reliable communication provided by qualified professional legal interpreters and translators, who are an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld.

The introduction of the tier system by the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement has profoundly compromised the quality of service provided to the police and court services, and constitutes an unacceptable lowering of the standard required for interpreting in the Criminal Justice System. It does not satisfy the requirements of the EU Directive and is resulting in costly delays, collapsed trials and may lead to miscarriages of justice.

This is evidenced extensively in the reports of the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts and the Justice Select Committees, and the Parliamentary Debate that followed, as well as in the stream of national and international articles published in the media since 30 January 2012, when the Ministry of Justice Framework was introduced (see Professional Interpreters for Justice and RPSI Linguist Lounge). The vast majority of our qualified public service colleagues have not and will not register with the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement.

A more suitable example would be the Metropolitan Police Service, which has made substantial savings since the introduction of their Language Programme in 2009, through efficiency and technology, whilst maintaining high standards of quality. Last year’s spending on Language Services was reduced to 2004/5 levels (please see below chart).

An appropriate and professional interpreting service upholds both the suspect’s and the victim’s ECHR rights, and the MPS, through Language and Cultural Services and its Language Programme, ensures that all Victims and Witnesses – which constitute about 35% of LCS use – are afforded equal access to the highest levels of linguistic support.

It is noteworthy that court interpreting is mainly held in public and open to scrutiny by interpreters, official bodies and the public alike and therefore misinterpreting can be readily detected and nipped in the bud. However, police interpreting by nature is held in private and misinterpreting can only be detected at a later stage, for example, when the case goes to solicitors or in court. Therefore, a different approach to the FWA should be applied.

We assume that ‘the national arrangements approved or prescribed by the Secretary of State’ proposed for deletion in the draft PACE refers to the National Agreement (NA), which was introduced to address concerns raised by Lord Runciman with regards to the difficulty of obtaining good quality interpreters in his Report to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in July 1993, and Lord Justice Auld’s Review of Criminal Justice in 2001. The NA is a safeguard to basic human rights and was put in place following the recommendations of Lord Justice Auld in order to ensure the right to a fair trial. In 2006 a Home Office Circular reinforced the importance of the NA and the quality of interpreting services, and subsequent amendments were made to strengthen it, ensuring only registered and qualified interpreters could practise in the Criminal Justice System.

Under the previous arrangements, interpreters used in criminal proceedings were primarily drawn from the NRPSI and the NRCPD, which ensured interpreters’ competence, reliability, accountability and security vetting by independently verifying their credentials and qualifications. These interpreters are bound by more stringent and robust codes of practice and conduct than those in the Framework Agreement.

Interpreters, the organisations representing them, and other professionals in Criminal Justice are also fearful of the consequences for Equal Access to Justice and Fair Trial for non-English Speakers, which may be put at risk if quality legal interpreting or translation is not provided. There are inherent dangers to the delivery of justice that can arise out of inadequate interpreting or complete failure to supply an interpreter at all. The potential cost due to failed prosecutions and appeals also cannot be underestimated.

It is often the victims that are overlooked in this and they too will suffer if the standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed for profit.

The only way to ensure quality of result for the victim and fairness for the perpetrator in any case is having good-quality interpreters, resulting in improved integrity of investigations and trials, better treatment of victims, witnesses and detainees, compliance with legal obligations, and good race relations.

Yours faithfully,

Klasiena Slaney
Company Secretary
For and on behalf of SOMI UK Ltd

Specific links for further information
1) National Agreement on the Use of Interpreters (NA)
2) National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI)
3) National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)
4) Home Office consultation on the proposed changes to the PACE codes of practice C and H
5) RPSI Linguist Lounge and Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J)
6) Metropolitan Police Service opted out of the MoJ Framework Agreement
The Sunday Telegraph, MPS Language services costs 2012/13
MPS FOI, January 2013, Language services costs 2011/12
MPS FOI, September 2011, Expenditure on Interpreters and Translators for the past 7 years
7) In 2001 Lord Justice Auld made recommendations in respect of interpreting provisions.
Auld Recommendations (paras 276-286, pages 63-64)
8 ) Equal Access to Justice and Fair Trial for non-English Speakers

Metropolitan Police Language Services Cost – Savings achieved through the Language Programme
01/04/2004 – 31/03/2005 £7,599,844.00
01/04/2005 – 31/03/2006 £8,823,838.00 16.11
01/04/2006 – 31/03/2007 £9,881,520.00 11.99
01/04/2007 – 31/03/2008 £10,541,236.00 6.68
01/04/2008 – 31/03/2009 £10,897,315.00 3.38
01/04/2009 – 31/03/2010 £9,598,849.00 -11.92
01/04/2010 – 31/03/2011 £8,829,552.00 -8.01
01/04/2011 – 31/03/2012 £7,624,797.00 -13.64
01/04/2012 – 01/01/2013 £7,100,000.00
Reduction since 2008/9 £3,797,315.00 -34.85

Met HQ Commercial and Finance – Money spent on interpreters in the MPS in the past 5 financial years (to 2015)