Lost in translation

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  • MoJ Framework Agreement is dangerous according to Iqbal Begum's case. It will kill people wrongly and destroy the UK Justice system very badly.

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  • The new agreement has landed the courts in a huge mess. Every day, there are more cases adjourned or delayed becuase an interpreter could not be supplied. If you read the agreement, you may come to conslusion that it is structurally flawed. Something needs to be done to solve this. The old system, although it had faults, did work. A simple calculation would show that the MOJ has spent around £2 million pounds setting this up, through the grandly entitled 'Interpretation Project', staffed by civil servants who at one point were happily trotting around England and Wales running workshops and roadshows. Then there are all of the costs associated with a complex procurement exercise. Rather than save money, it is costing more. Before long, there is going to be an absolute calamity.

    Sadly, the MOJ doesn't appear to do common sense and prefers to cling on to a rotten deal. Unless they take their heads out of the sand and start talking soon, this is going to get much, much worse.

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  • Since ALS took over, generally defendants have been kept in custody for much longer than they should have been. A qualified interpreter usually costs about £100 - ALS interpreters probably get only about £20. So no doubt there is a saving of £80, some of which will go to ALS as their profits. In the meantime, an extra day in custody costs over £700 - so MOJ will have lost over £600 whilst trying to save about £40? False economy? For some reason, the allegations that the MOJ has a direct financial interest in the success of ALS start to make sense...
    ALS should NEVER have been awarded the contract in the first place.
    NONE of the ALS interpreters have been SECURITY CLEARED. So you could have a drug dealer interpreting for his drug mule - lovely, right?

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  • I appreciate that the public services are expected to make cuts across the board. However, given that our country is world famous for it's high quality legal system, it beggars belief that such a thing can be allowed to happen. I believe there has now been a BBC debate about this matter, which will only make things worse for the MoJ as it's been brought to the wider publics attention and as such potential criminals will be looking for ways to exploit this to there owns means and walk away free.

    As far as I can see, the only ones benefitting from all this are the person/s owning ALS. One also has to ask, how come they were the only ones offered this monopoly...sorry 'contract?

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  • Perhaps the reason can be explained for choosing such a visibly flawed scheme from the outset. Has anyone looked at the ownership of ALS, it was sold by none other than the same idiot in the government who has piloted this project. What makes the explanation even more clear cut is that this "minister" stands to make some £60 odd million for themselves should this project succeed. This explains the perceiving on such a badly thought out idea.

    You can't suddenly reduce people's wages by 50% and remove expenses in this way. What next, will we start on other skilled trades such as lawyers and doctors, declaring that a lawyer can earn no more than £20 an hour and claim no expenses.

    The government needs to realise that they need the interpreters more than the interpreters need them.

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  • MoJ can get out of this whenever they want:
    Framework Agreement (http://to.ly/ccwB) p146 "Sub-contractors not adhering to contract with main supplier: Any sub-contractor working with Applied Language Solutions on the delivery of services will be closely managed by an experienced team, overseen by Public Services Director, [redacted]. "
    That's Richard Loyer, see:
    http://www.appliedlanguage.com/interpreting_services/language_courses.aspx
    http://www.appliedlanguage.com/about_us/news/als-wins-peterborough-nhs-contract.aspx
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/richard-loyer/5/1a0/463
    But Mr Richard Samuel Loyer has never been a director of Applied Language Solutions!
    This is your excuse to get out - BREECH OF CONTRACT!

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  • 20th February, 2012.
    Dear Ms Carrad,
    SPSI wrote to the manager of the MoJ's Interpretation Project, Louisa Carrad:
    SPSI repeats its willingness to cooperate and secure a better service that we are certain, given Cambridgeshire Constabulary and WITS, that we can secure savings well in excess of 40% p.a. whilst guaranteeing quality and that the CJS is not paralysed by the current chaos. We ascribe the several instances of cases adjourned, interpreters not turning up or showing their inability to tackle the task that we are not confronted with teething problems but to a fundamentally flawed approach against which we warned repeatedly. It is nothing short of a shocking waste of public money and certainly contrary to public interest.
    SPSI also attaches a copy of the letter sent by V. Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, to the Chairman of APCI, Geoffrey Buckingham that shows the repeated assurances uttered and written by MoJ officials and ministers that the new system complies with the EU directive 2010 on interpreting has no credibility.
    I am ccing your colleagues Julie Homer and Graham Anderson as well as other interested parties and organisations.

    Yours sincerely,
    Prof. G. A. Makin
    Chairman
    SPSI Ltd.

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  • After winning the monopoly - sorry, 'contract' - ALS was bought out by Capita Group, a Tory party donor. The whole thing has been a scam from the beginning by the Tories to make them and their mates richer. No-one would listen to us, but luckily the absolute shambles of a system is making the legal profession back our protests. Keep protesting - we cannot allow this disgraceful scandal to continue!

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  • ALS is a joke. Please believe me, they offer people tier 1 jobs who have never been assessed or security cleared. I know two people who have been offered tier 1 jobs and they were surprised because one of them was in tier 3 and the second one was placed in tier 2 without his knowledge and without ever taking part in ALS's assessment.

    They are desparately trying to show that everything is fine, but soon they will soil their nappies following their teething problems.

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  • There are two factual errors in this piece that we feel we must correct as they are misleading.

    Firstly, the North West Police Forces contract with ALS was not set up as a "pilot" scheme relating to the MoJ. This agreement was in place following an independent procurement exercise and the two are unrelated.


    Secondly, none of those police forces named above "ditched" ALS at any time and it is unclear which “disasters” the author is referring to. Following a Judicial Review it was found that an Equality Assessment wasn't completed by the Police prior to awarding the language services contract to ALS. This Equality Assessment was subsequently carried out in full, during which time ALS continued to provide services to the North West Police Forces. These forces all continue to use ALS as a provider of language services today.

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  • ALS continue to mess this up. Their latest attempt to get people to work for them is to tinker with their rates. This is being rejected by most NRPSIs. They put in a very low bid for a contract which is structurally flawed. Those flaws are being laid bare every day in courts across the UK. It is now time for the MOJ to ditch this before it gets worse, which it will.

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  • Seems to me like a good defence strategy with the current mess now would be to claim you need an interpreter whether or not your spoken English is adequate. Without an interpreter the police can't keep you in custody indefinitely and the courts can't hold the trial.

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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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  • My wife will be doing her last Tribunal case tomorrow after ten years as a court interpreter. She has always been praised by the court services for her professionalism and competence, and in her place next week will probably be someone from ALS who hasn't a clue.
    Amidst all the hubbub, a whole generation of the best interpreters in the country will quietly disappear, disgusted with the way they have been treated.
    The interpreters cannot stop the MoJ.
    The Courts could, but they must make up their minds now as to whether they want to fight to get back the experienced and dedicated interpreters they have been accustomed to, or just let things slide...
    Do nothing, your professional interpreters will just fade away, and incompetent interpreting will become the norm.

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  • Just under my earlier comment s a response from ALS to someone else's comment. I have written so many times about two of my friends one of whom is registered with ALS in tier 3 and gets tier 1 jobs and the second who has never registered or taken the assessment has been placed n tier 2 and keepts receiving job offers for tier 1. Come ALS be a man, respond to my comment and I will send you the evidence.

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  • What I find interesting with respect to the rebuttal by ALS of certain statements is the fact that they do not comment on the statements regarding interpreters without security clearance, or registration, or appropriate qualifications. I know for a fact that people have been called to interpret in court cases with no experience, clearance and who have not undergone the allegedly strict assessment procedures. Perhaps a comment on this would be appropriate.

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  • The rates being offered by ALS and the way they expected the already qualified/experienced interpreters to undergo an assessment (conducted by incompetent assesors) is an insult to this profession; no wonder the majority of NRPSI interpreters have refused to work with ALS. May be those who are running MoJ are not competent enough to understand that by supporting an organisation (ALS) unconditionally which is not upto the task is in itself an unjust act that must be condemned as 100s of interpreters are on the verge of losing their livelyhood and would ultimately seek financial help in the forms of various benefits from job centres/social services etc thus making MoJ a big joke which instead of making savings will have lost tens of millions of pounds more! Wake up MoJ!

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  • ALS pretend there is a "tiered system". In fact, all interpreters are offered the same ludicrous "fee", £20.00 for what can amount to a whole morning's appearance at the Magistrates Court. All public service interpreting (courts, police stations, hospitals, probation service, etc.) involves long periods of hanging about doing nothing. This is not the interpreter's fault but their time is as valuable as anyone else's and they are getting one hour's pay for four hours' work. People get paid far more than £20 an hour for the most menial, unskilled jobs. It is not just that the pay offered by ALS and the other agencies who do government work, when the government could so easily contact us direct, is appalling and below minimum wage – it is an insult to our skills and professionalism.

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  • Who would work for an agency to be paid only £20 for one hour's attendance for an hour's job in London which would involve paying about £10 from your own pocket for the tube ticket and spending 2-3 hours unpaid for return travel on top of it? This means that you will have to spend 3-4 hours to do one hour job and get only £10 in return (before income tax and NI payments) after travel costs?
    When you are told that the earnings would be so little, would you also voluntarily spend £100 from your pocket to pay for an assessment set by the same agency to join the list of their slaves? They said that this was compulsory for anyone qualified or unqualified! I don't think any reasonable person would pay that much to take such silly tests when they already spent hundreds of pounds to take other exams and training which allowed them to join the profession before then.
    So, isn't it better for us to sit at home and do other jobs than investing our time, energy and money to help courts when they are desparate if we know that we will get exploited by the agency in return for such poor rates?
    Believe me, I used to be very keen on working in public sector by helping courts, police and public agencies at short notice, but I can't let them exploit us by allowing such agencies to profit from our slavery.
    As a result of our stance, the agency is so desparate to induce us to accept the unacceptable terms they put in their contract agreement that they are even giving away £250 to interpreters who could persuade others to join! I wonder where that money is coming from? Probably from the taxpayers' pocket!
    Following our stance on this issue, they also decided to add only £5 extra for the first hours' work, which you can understand is not sufficient to attract us to spend 1-2 hours commuting in busy London tubes and buses and wasting about £10 from our pocket for the travel card to get to a London court without knowing how long the work will last - probably only for an hour, hence the earnings would be only £15 after the costs for wasting 3-4 hours of our time.
    In the mean time, when we accept such jobs, as we often get other work requiring us to attend police stations, for example, at short notice, we will have to turn down such better paid work to continue commuting to the court without any payment for travel. This means that by taking jobs from ALS, we will also take the risk of loosing other opportunities i.e. better paid interpreting jobs, which would pay for our travel time, travel costs and almost twice as much per hour's work! This is called "opportunity cost" in Economics and any educated businessman (not known whether Gavin Wheeldon is included in this category?) should know this concept before setting rates for their employees or contractors.

    In brief, as an experienced interpreter, based on my calculations of the capital costs (cost of travel, exam, time wasted for attendance) involved and the opportunity costs (e.g. loss of other better paid jobs) that I will suffer by working for courts through the ALS, I cannot afford to work for ALS. This is because the losses I will suffer will be far greater than gains that I will make by working for them!
    They should know that interpreting is not a menial job and not everyone can do it. It requires concentration, memory, listening in one language and at the same time interpreting in the other language simultaneously in a court environment, knowledge of legal proceedings etc. It also involves taking the risks such as not getting any work for weeks and at the same time being available for work any time of the day and night, i.e. changing plans instantly at short notice to adjust to work requests, no guaranteed payment and no guarantee of even getting the payment on time from such companies (this may mean that we will have to keep sending reminders to get what we deserve to be paid. We often have to wait for months to get the payments for our work and in the mean time keep paying the interest on our loans until we get our payments from the agencies).
    Courts should think twice before letting such agencies get involved in the justice process. I get so worried about the consequences of this contract that I thought it would be appropriate to call the MoJ as the Ministry of Injustice!

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  • If any service provider is on a call out, he will get paid for his time, even if covered by fixed fee. Why should interpreters be expected to travel 1 hour each way without pay and 10 miles each way, again without pay?
    Why can't they claim their travel tickets in full( they are offered paid under the same petty mileage scheme, which in some cases only covers a quarter of their expenses) and they are not reimbursed for parking? This is the average 40 hours a weeks steady job. You are expected to be by the phone, ready to jump in your car at any time, day or night and support the JUSTICE SYSTEM! well,t there is no justice in this ALS agreement!
    Personally, I would have thought MOJ and exclusivity (in providing PSI's to Courts and police) cannot be in the same sentence, but that is obviously, not what the MOJ thinks. Shame on them!

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  • I have had a lot of dealings with "fast growth" applied and their boss Gavin.
    Here are a few truths which point to how the company is managed and which the company wont want airing:
    First, applied absolutely did not envisage that the moj would ever go back on the agreement in this way, especially in public.
    Gavin sells the services of his company whether his people can actually deliver what he has promised or not.
    They often overstate what their capacity is and how experienced the linguists will be. The case of the moj is no different
    Their staff have been working all hours just to fulfill the below par level of service delivered that has caused this u turn. The company is now at full stretch and is still struggling to keep up.
    Stories of unveted people for the moj are not true as they do vet their linguists, just not all of them and not always properly. When desperate they understandably turn a blind eye on quality control.
    Unqualified interpreters have been used by applied in the courts, for police and medical purposes.
    Greater manchester police even ripped up their contract with applied last year after the companys services affected police investigations. Quality was the main comlpaint, or so said the PIA.
    Going into the contract without the support of the PIA was something applied was happy to do and defiantly told linguists that "these are the rates. take the work or we will find someone else who will", such was their confidence in the moj brief to reduce cost. It's also why they never thought the moj would go back on the agreement as long as their cost was reduced.
    They refused to entertain from the outset that this could impact the quality of the linguists who would make themselves available for the money on offer.
    Gavin always oversold his company. He has previous for doing it. Getting denied investment on tv for overvaluing the company was just the start.
    Overselling to investors was one of the next steps after a number of private translation contracts went to the wall.
    The company recently sold for £7m "but up to 65mil" depending on performance.
    This just shows you how exaggerated Gavins claims are. Capita saw through this and insisted on the "up to" element of that agreement while they pacified Gavins ambitious boasting.

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  • Josephine Bacon, who is one of the most experienced interpreters in this country - in and out of court - is absolutely right. This level of pay is a sick joke. ALS can post as many lame excuses as they want: they can't deny the facts. Although I am not as experienced as Josephine, I have been a court and police interpreter for over 20 years, and I flatly refuse to work under these conditions.

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  • Just you wait Henry Higgins until the people start claiming wrong sentences due to bad interpreting. This could run into millions of pounds, sued against ALS, of course.

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  • It is interesting to read so many comments on ALS
    Today has been a bad day for us .
    We have been desperately running around trying to buy more interpreters.
    We have been emailing them and texting them and in some desperate occassions even calling them , but they all remain against us.
    Yesterday we watched several memers of the judicial critice ALS and last night it was revealed we had our first wasted costs order againt us.
    Today its already a little worse same analyists are advising to sell capita shares because of the bad publicity.

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  • I am not an interpreter, I only speak a little French from school. I work in Coventry for £9.20 per hour and I live in Birmingham, it costs me £10.40 each day to get to work, I have to pay this myself. I spend 40 minutes getting to and from work each day in my own time. I cannot choose to attend my work I must turn up every day or be fired, as I believe it interpreters are "offered" jobs which they can decline due to the weather coniditions, family issues or perhaps what sport is on TV that day. We, the normal people, cannot boycott employers who refuse to pay us top rates, that is against the law and anyway we could not afford to do that, no income means no food, are you living off your stockpile of cash built up over many years of earning good money? GET REAL you guys, get in to the same world as the rest of the working population. We are all suffering as a result of the last Labour government selling us out, it is a hard life, just get on with it and do not moan.

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  • Dear "Anonymous | 25-Feb-2012 11:08 am"
    If you think interpreters are overpaid, study a language for a few years, spend some time abroad to become truly fluent, perhaps go to college, pass some exams and become an interpreter. Then you too can be paid £24 for spending an hour travelling, an hour working and an hour travelling home, richer by maybe £10 or £15 after paying for petrol/parking/train fares.
    A busy interpreter might manage 10 such assignments in a week, and earn, before tax etc. as much as £150! What are you waiting for?

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  • I am really confused by all of this, apparently there have been 26.000 requests for interpreters in the last 3 months, that does seem a lot to me, how many of these were defendants and how many were witnesses, that is the real question.
    The puzzling thing is that when I watch TV News from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, any eastern European country they can almost all speak pretty good English, even the man in the street. In fact watching Eurovision and SoccerAid this weekend I saw that most of the Eurovision entries sang in English, all of those representing their countries in the vote spoke very good English, not the french though, and SoccerAid's visits to India, PhillIpines and a number of African countries introduced many pretty good English speakers in the streets, I also seem to recall the same with all of the other televised AID programmes.
    My question therefore is why do all of these people need interpreters?
    If there is a genuine need then so be it but If they are defendants and found gui;ty they should be made to pay the interpreter costs, that might just stop them demanding an interpreter and rouse their long lost command of the English language.

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