Lawyers slam Government’s new court interpreting system

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  • English judges do not bang gavels.

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  • I am sure that not the qualification makes u proffessional and expert. It's the experience that you have. Without going to courts and working in the area, you'll be just a person who holds a degree.

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  • I thought you might like to read this article. MoJ is monitoring these issues and unless ALS gets better by 24th February, they will start using the old system. We were told that the courts can book us directly until that day under the National Agreement payment terms just to give ALS more time to correct itself! This means that our action is working well!

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  • The fact here is Applied Language Solutions had months to prepare for this.
    It has not worked and never will. It is not teething, it is terminal and the sooner it is terminated the better.
    Even if the MOJ gave them another 2 years, they will not be able to deliver.

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  • How did a tiny company in Oldham (ALS), with no financial probity or significant track-record win the £300 million MoJ contract?
    How come this company also won the contract of the Olympics and many Strategic Health Authorities?
    How come ALS was acquired by Capita less than 2 months after it was awarded the MoJ contract?
    Do acquisitions for LSE listed companies (ie Capita) not take longer than this to prepare?
    Are Capita not a major financial donor to the Conservative party?
    Is this simple cronyism or something more sinister?
    This all needs investigating....

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  • MoJ of all people should understand that people's human rights are paramount. ALS is not fit for purpose, as it doesn't appear to appreciate the professional nature of interpreters' work, especially regarding legal matters. It's not enough for someone to be fluent in a language. The knowledge of specialist vocabulary is vital. These interpreters are highly skilled professionals and their work conditions and pay should reflect this.

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  • Dear Gavin
    Did you think you can invent something? What is your invention? Is it using less qualified interpreters?
    So what happens when your interpreters become qualified? Do you continuously find less qualified people?
    Do you know what it means to get lost in translation? I think you do! Many like you tried to run agencies, the less this profession is regulated, the worst it gets to be in it!
    Let me tell you why it doesn't work for courts but works for everything else, it is because each listing costs 10 if not 20 times any booking at any hospital or local authority. Did you miss that?
    I bet you did!

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  • It's incredible that anyone would think 'teething problems' to be even remotely acceptable. If even one trial or case is jeopardised because of ALS, then they have failed. Citing 'teething problems' is an atrociously poor excuse for failing so badly to ensure justice.

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  • Answer to parliamentary question reveals the contract priorities, but whatever happened to compliance?

    http://www.parliament.uk/

    Written Answers to Questions
    Wednesday 7 December 2011

    JUSTICE
    Applied Language Solutions
    Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 14 November 2011, Official Report, columns 544-5W, on Applied Language Solutions, (1) whether the statement in that answer that the assessment of creditors of Applied Language Solutions (ALS) falling due within one year is nil is reconcilable with ALS' 2009-10 accounts which show creditors with debts falling due within one year as £1.926 million; [84296]
    (2) what the criteria were which his Department used in making its choice of provider; and for what reason Applied Language Solutions was chosen as the provider. [84427]
    Mr Blunt: The answer provided previously was in response to a question which the Department considered to relate specifically to mezzanine funding which is a hybrid of debt and equity funding.
    In more general terms, a financial assessment of Applied Language Solutions considered the company to be financially viable with a profitable position. At the time these issues were considered, it was known that the solution would be a one-stop shop facility that could be delivered by one or more companies. Small and Medium Enterprises, including Applied Language Solutions, with reasonable financial positions and scalable solutions were therefore considered suitable.

    7 Dec 2011 : Column 311W
    The criteria used to determine the choice of provider were: Service 30%, Innovation 10%, Quality 25%, Assurance of Supply 30% and Sustainability 5%. In financial terms, the Ministry of Justice had determined it would accept the lowest priced, affordable and compliant tender, i.e. there would be a minimum threshold of 80% for the non price criteria above which the lowest priced tender would be selected. Applied Language Solutions met the criteria and submitted the lowest priced tender.

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  • What I can't understand is that ALS have publicly claimed to have 3,000 interpreters registered with the company.
    The National Register of Interpreters contains 2364 interpreters, 60% of whom have refused to work for ALS:
    http://goo.gl/q9WHM
    The remaining 40% make 946 interpreters. Where did ALS get 2054 experienced interpreters from?
    ALS is now part of Capita Group PLC, a publicly listed company. Any PLC has an obligation under LSE rules to disclose information fully and accurately.
    I think ALS may be guilty of misleading the market, and Capita shareholders in particular.

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  • And look what has happened now, the courts have been given the go ahead to hire interpreters in so-called "urgent cases" as ALS is doing such a shoddy job. Thank goodness. Let's hope that the government decides to drop the scheme altogether as it's obviously not working and is infringing people's human rights.

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  • How the MoJ can associate common sense in the same context as this procurement decision is farcical. Where is the common sense in slashing interpreters pay by up to 50% to the point where it doesn't make economic sense for them to work? 30% of these new costs are going to Mr Wheeler Dealer-don and the other fat cats at Capita. Where's the cost of incurring many times the overall interpreter cost because of delays incurred by all the other parties involved in this common sense decision? A few compensation cases due to injustice served as a result of poor translation is quickly going to dissipate any perceived savings.

    It's taken only 2 weeks and the MoJ are back-tracking despite a torrent of backlash when they made the decision and the fact that ALS had been sacked by the Greater Manchester Police just weeks before for the same issue. The sooner that they shelve this ill-conceived primitive concept of cost-saving the better for the sake of the whole judicial system of this country.

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  • An idea:
    Since the MoJ showed so much disregard, disloyalty and contempt for professional interpreters who have been working in justice system for so many years for measly rates, I think we should get united in our profession and renegotiate our fees, e.g. minimum payment of £150 p/hr for the first three hours +£25 p/hr for travel time, and then additional attendance time @ £50 p/hr + travel expenses i.e. £0.50 p/mile. I think we can achieve this if we get organised and not give in to exploitative agencies. For start, I would propose to set a date in not a distant future at which day all of us withdraw our sevices to the MoJ and see if they can cope with the likes of ALS. I'm pretty sure it would teach the MoJ a lesson not to treat us again in the future as they did by awarding this contract to ALS. Second step would be to have an enquiry about why did responsible people in the MoJ behave in the way they did in relation to this matter, because it smells of something rotten and I would not be surprised of financial links betwen those in MoJ and champion spiv Gavin Wheldon.

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  • What amazes me is how they can suggest that the previous recognised academic qualifications needed to be on the National Register are now worthless when applying to work for them, and now suggest that their own internal assesment is sufficient to deem a person qualified for legal interpreting. When they are under such massive pressure to get interpretors is it possible they could have 'dumbed down' their assessments much?
    Also i have heard that most of the assessment papers have not even been marked yet from the last batch and yet these interpretors are being allowed to practice legal interpreting in the field without yet knowing if they have passed the ALS assessments or not.
    Yet another example of ALS putting underqualified interpreters to work in a desperate attempt to fulfill their contractual obligations at the expense of a fair and professional legal system for those requiring interpreters.

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  • Someone at the MoJ did not do any homework on ALS at all and should be brought to account. Not just the past history quoted above, but I know of at least one more case of a health authority being so appalled by the levels of service offered by ALS that they pulled out of the contract at the earliest opportunity.
    They've also tried bully tactics on NRPSI members who haven't signed up for them - pestering them with emails telling them their work is about to dry up if they don't sign up immediately.
    And then there's the tale (maybe apocryphal) of ad's for interpreter recruitment appearing in Jobcentres in Essex.
    It would be funny if it weren't so serious.

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  • I run an agency and have to say that we were appalled when ALS contacted us asking us to help source interpreters for a fee of £12 per hour. Clearly an agency fee would need to be deducted so the suggestion that we would even consider destroying our reputation by asking professionals to work for a pittance was disgusting. It is a highly professional role and the premium pay is to account for the fact that interpreters are not constantly engaged between assignments. You guys should stand your ground as the majority think you are worth every penny and do a fantastic job. In the same way that teaching is now being done by teaching assistants and traditional nursing procedures by auxiliaries, there are no levels that the government wouldn't sink to if there's an opportunity to get something for cheaper. Talk about qualifications and upskilling is all lip service.

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  • I agree with the idea of saying no to the MoJ when they go back to the old framework, which they will eventualy. It came from them the idea that was not good enough, therefore, WE WANT BIGGER AND BETTER NOW. The other thing is what about CRB checks? This people that the ALS is sending to courts, they are supposed to have them. It took me ages to get mine. How are they getting them, supermaket vouchers? They are not being tested to degree level, we all know that. Mr. whatever your name is, the one that sold ALS, if we think being a legal interpreter is easy show us how good you are and try sitting the DPSI Law? By the way, how many languages do you speak? This decision of outsourcing was a test to our intelligence. Most interpreters are foreigners, like me, but that is not to say we are grateful to be treated as 2nd classe citizens. We pay taxes and contribute to this country's economy and development. Please respect us.

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  • The jobcentre plus ads aren't apocryphal, but appeared all over the country. Note the minimum wage equivalent claim - what a driver of quality. CVs at the ready!

    INTERPRETER / TRANSLATOR
    Vacancy from jobcentreplus
    Job No:
    BRC/59414
    SOC Code:
    3412
    Wage
    £8 PER HOUR + TRAVEL TIME + EXPENSES
    Hours
    1-30 PER WEEK, MONDAY-FRIDAY, BETWEEN 8AM AND 6PM
    Location
    BRAINTREE, ESSEX CM7
    Duration
    Permanent
    Date posted
    01 November 2011
    Pension details
    No details held

    Description
    This is a self employed vacancy. Professional interpreters/translators required. Employer can accommodate applicants who are fluent in a second language DPSI or similar qualification an advantage but training can be aided for those who wish to attain the qualification. Jobs are available in any local area. The company has given an assurance that this vacancy enables workers to achieve a wage equivalent to the National Minimum Wage rate. Self-employed people are responsible for paying their own National Insurance contributions and Tax. For information on how benefits are affected and whether entitlement may be lost, speak to a Jobcentre Plus Adviser. Please click the link Come Work for Us.
    How to apply
    You can apply for this job by visiting www.alsukltd.com
    Employer
    ALS UK Ltd

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  • Please note that the comment above relates to ALS UK Ltd which is a Midlands based company that is in no way linked to Applied Language Solutions.

    You may however be interested in an update on our website relating to payment rates for MoJ assignments booked with Applied Language Solutions. This update can be found at Linguist Lounge. http://www.linguistlounge.com/increases-to-payments/

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  • If you don't like this situation write to the minister of State for Justice Lord McNally, click "I want to write to this Lord":
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=justice&pid=13129&wtt=2
    When writing to Lord McNally, refer to the rather dubious answers he made in the House of Lords:
    http://www.iol.org.uk/news/news_article.asp?r=PB63KS11093

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