Archive for April, 2017

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