MoJ ditches new court interpreting system in face of major backlash

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  • More self induced tribulations from the MOJ.... cannot wait until automatic arbitration kicks in on so called small claims.....disaster beckons!! Ken Clarke and his Sir Humphrey's are wreaking havoc....... tried getting sense out of a County Court call centre lately??

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  • This is just a sorry mess, and it needs sorting, quick.
    Applied Language Solutions cannot deliver what it has promised and simply does not have the capacity to cope.
    ALS is so desperate it has been making all sorts of ridiculous offers to try to get interpreters to sign up. Most still refuse.
    It's costing the courts service a fortune, there are no savings, just cases piling up, wasted cost orders flying around, people held in custody longer than they should be. Major disruption.
    You get what you pay for. A bargain basement deal which sends (when they turn up) boil-in-the-bag mostly unqualified and inexperienced people.
    The problem is not with short notice appointments. It is a contract with structural flaws, a company seriously out of its depth and a Government department with its head in the sand.

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  • As an ex-employee of ALS I am not surprised by this news at all. It is a small company and it looks like it has bitten off more than it can chew. I was very surprised that the MOJ would award this contract to a company that only had a total turnover that is a fraction (aproximately 5%) of the value of the contract. How did they expect this to work? They effectively created a new company to provide these services that had no experience of such big contracts. Seems like the procurement dept in the public sector has a lot to answer for.

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  • I am training to become DPSI qualified and have been placed as a Tier 1 interpreter in ALS's register. Jobs of all sorts have been offered to me without me taking any sort of assessments or other exams with or without ALS, and as far as ALS are concerned I am just a person with no proof of my abilities, qualifications or indeed security clearance. I have been offered jobs in Magistrate and Crown Courts, Employment Tribunals - this is just outrageous....there must be consequences.

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  • MoJ "broken record"says: "will save at least £18M, i.e. nearly a third, on annual spend of £60M"
    That should mean that the amount paid as a result should be £42M maximum - right?
    WRONG - MoJ has given 3 interpreting contracts to ALS:
    Contract A:
    http://www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/Common/View%20Notice.aspx?site=1000&lang=en¬iceid=264052&fs=true
    £300M over 48 months = £75M per year.
    Contract B:

    http://www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/Common/View%20Notice.aspx?site=1000&lang=en¬iceid=352922&fs=true
    £125M over 60 months = £25M per year.

    Contract C:
    http://www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/Common/View%20Notice.aspx?site=1000&lang=en¬iceid=414414&fs=true
    £8M over 57 months = £1.68M per year.

    Total somewhat over £100M , costing the taxpayer an extra £40M per year!
    Face the facts - you are ripping the taxpayer off, destroying an industry with a Royal Charter AND lying about the savings at the same time!

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  • I made the MOJ aware personally of serious problems reported from the North West after ALS was awarded a contract with 4 police forces in August 2010. I wrote to the MOJ and their procurement department in September 2010, making them aware of specific examples of the same problems courts are experiencing now. I also sent the MOJ a petition signed by NRPSI registrants clearly stating they would not work for ALS. All this happened in 2010. The MOJ was well aware of these problems at the time it awarded the contract to ALS. We need a public enquiry into why the MOJ chose to ignore such important information.

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  • I personally informed the interpreting project manager of two very serious problems. One interpreter with very basic English who has been placed in tier 3 has been used on a number of ocassions for tier 1 jobs. He also acted as an interpreter during an interview with a rape suspect. Following this intervirew, he felt the pressure and said he would not accept further bookings from ALS.
    I inow another person who has never been assessed by ALS, but has been placed in tier 2 without his knowledge. He was shocked when he found out that he was in tier 2. He got another shock when he was offered tier 1 jobs. ALS doesn't know whether this particualr person is CRB checked. They don't even know if he is entitled to work in this country.
    I personally wrote to MoJ and the lady sent me an e-mail saying she had received my e-mail. Nothing else has been done.
    ALS is a joke. It is a scam and they will do anything to hide their failure.

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  • I fully agree that the procurement department should be investigated to find out how this contract could have been awarded to a company with such an appalling track record. It seems that the civil servants just looked at the value of the contract and nothing else. You simply cannot replace 2300 professional interpreters with unqualified people and expect the contract to work. What next? Outsourcing the provision of surgeons to ALS and expecting to replace them with cleaners on a minimum wage!?! That would cut the health service bill, but at what cost? The rates offered by ALS are so low that even the unqualified non-English speaking persons turning up in our courts cannot afford to work for them. What a mess.

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  • Now, with a little (only little) more time on my hands, while all this farce is going on, I use it to “polish” my interpreting skills even further, by spending more time watching Polish TV, with particular attention to anything, that might contain legal terms. This evening, while engrossed in reading very well thought out comments on this page, I picked up a news item (Polsat TV – Wydarzenia, 23.02.2012) that really made me smile, and I wish to share it with you all here.
    The story takes place in Poland, over the last week-end, and the Bank wished not to declare its identity.
    “An unscrupulous criminal has used a stolen ID to open a business bank account. Part of the service was the use of the wall deposit box, reserved for the trusted and valued customers. After a couple of low value, genuine transactions on the account, the individual (CCTV image shown) deposited, in an unusual (not transparent) black bag, paper shredding. This, he did last Friday afternoon, hence The Police believe that he must have had insider information, that the deposits will not be checked until Monday, declaring that he has deposited 1.5 million EUR. As soon as the declared money appeared on his account that afternoon, he promptly purchased gold bars to the aforementioned value, and collected immediately. An arrest warrant has been issued.”
    Now, I thought, the charge? The answer came in a lightning – First Degree Blatancy!
    I thought, that in the 21st century, things like this could not happen! How wrong!

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  • As a professional and registered interpreter in three foreign languages, I have been really upset about the whole situation regarding ALS. Firstly, the MoJ had a complete disregard for the integrity of my profession where is in my opinion an interpreter (if required in a trial/police interview) is as important as a barrister / prosecutor. However, MoJ just wanted to save the money and they thought the interpreters do not deserve a skilled Job's pay. An interpreter still earns less than many skilled self-employed people. Also, the hourly pay for interpreters is still the same since 2007. So instead of making it better, they tried to make it worse. Secondly, ALS thought that they can use their bullying tactics and force us into accepting their conditions. Well I am afraid it does not work like that in today's world. I will not work for ALS at any cost and will only resume work with the same passion and honor for the MoJ, police forces and my profession as before once the MoJ scraps the whole idea of outsourcing the interpreter service to ALS, which in my view would be a very sensible thing after the harsh experience of having to deal with non-qualified and non-security cleared interpreters (if one bothered to turn up) delays, waste of public funds and waste of important time for the relevant people. I think it would be wise to reinstate the National Agreement for interpreters pay, make the National Register of Public Service Interpreters as the regulatory body and bring things back to normal.

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  • This is quite typical of my experience of the UK translation market. Having set up over here after starting our business in Australia, there is a huge gulf between the two countries with regard to the level of respect for the profession, the appreciation for the talent of those who are appropriately qualified to carry out difficult translation (or interpreting) work and the rates that these highly qualified people should command. A constant drive to reduce rates means that the old adage "buy cheap buy twice" adage keeps cropping up in our business. Prospective clients are constantly approaching us with requests to correct work which has been conducted by a cheaper provider but are then surprised when we refuse to work at the rates on offer. If you want a tertiary-educated linguist with either practical experience working as a lawyer or vast experience as a legal translator to undertake your translation or interpreting work, you need to pay for it. And, unfortunately for some of the pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap providers, no amount of sophisticated technology is going to replace the all-important element of human skill.

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  • The only way forward is to revert to the National Agreement for interpreters, as before, and in the mean time have full blown discussions with interpreters, as to how costs may be cut without damaging the public's right to proper interpretation in court. Most of us will NOT work for an agency who profits from us and the public purse.

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  • For me it seems that a very closed group, so called ‘registered interpreters’ are extremely unhappy about their pay cuts.
    On the one hand it is quiet understandable. I wouldn’t be happy if instead of a pay rise I would have to accept a pay-cut.
    However the way the registered interpreters handle this situation is appalling. They go to court, meet officially booked interpreters (Applied Language Solutions), intimidate them, make threats or unpleasant comment such as: ‘it is my court, back off’ ect.
    Are they really professional?
    From the tax payer’s view this change was inevitable. It is not a normal situation where interpreters are being paid more than solicitors. We live in hard times and the time to save money has come.
    One word of advice to registered interpreters-get over it. The time when you have been wasting tax payers money is over.
    WELL DONE GAVIN!! You have my full support!!!!

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  • One can only speculate whether 'marcin' is an employee of ALS' PR department. I think the 'go Gavin go go go' gives it away slightly. 
    As to the points raised, I very much doubt ALS interpreters are being 'intimidated'. If they are, then ALS should document and post these events on the internet, in the same way that professional interpreters are recording instances of ALS failure and inadequacy and publishing them. Perhaps, being of the private sector, ALS are somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of public courts, and so when professional interpreters, as they are entitled to do as members of the public, go to court to observe ALS interpters in action, and maybe ask them what qualifications they have to do the job, ALS and their stooges interpret this as 'intimidation'.
    As for comparing interpreters and solicitors pay in a simplistic way, let me explain. solicitors usually get paid a salary, interpreters are self employed. Solicitors make a per-hour loss at the bread and butter magistrates hearings and stay in business doing trials and more complex cases, where larger fees are earned by more senior associates which keeps the whole firm afloat. Interpreters earn more than a solicitor in the magistrates and (just about) in the police station, but an advocate at trial or a more legally complex earns a lot more for his firm than the interpreter at that hearing. Then factor in that interpreters don't have the infrastructure of a law firm and do all their taxes and admin themselves, don't have a salary guaranteed at the end of the month,  and that interpreters rates haven't changed for 10 years,  whereas in 10 years a solicitor may have progressed from associate to partner and got a raise, and you start to realise how nonsensical is the argument put by 'marcin'.
    As for tax payers money being wasted. Perhaps, 'marcin' can enlighten us, as a fan, if not even an insider, of ALS, who will meet the cost of adjournments, additional custody time and wasted costs orders against ALS by solicitors firms, if not the Taxpayer. I understand the damage caused by ALS already in the first month make the trumpeted "£18m savings" look like a fairytale.

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  • marcin you do realise you are just confirming that some eastern european people accepts extremely low pay

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