Saturday 25 January 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, January 25, 2014 with No comments | Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Being beastly to foreigners seems to be back in vogue. At least to foreigners without much money. In its pursuit of popularity the Tory Party proposed stopping printing welfare leaflets in foreign languages and stop providing translators at benefits offices for those who don't speak English.

According to an un-named 'Tory insider' quoted by the Daily Mail, "The vast majority of voters will think this idea is plain common sense. It is unreasonable to expect taxpayers to spend huge sums on translators when people should be learning to read and write English."

Maybe the Tory insider is right about voters, maybe not. Either way, denying poor foreigners their legal right to benefits by putting up a language barrier won't really affect the "vast majority of voters". On the other hand, the government's ongoing outsourcing of providing interprepters for the Justice System will. Impairing foreigners' access to good interpreters when they appear in courts and police stations will affect all of us. Those voters who care little whether an innocent foreigner gets an undeserved punishment should remember: when the innocent get punished for a crime they did not commit the guilty who did commit the crime get away to offend again.

A report by the National Audit Office in January 2014 took another look at the performance of the Ministry of Justice's attempt at outsourcing the provision of interpreters to the justice system. 

The Ministry of Justice had earlier been scolded by Parliament's Justice Committee and the National Audit Office for the calamitous performance of this outsourcing arrangement. A key element in this outsourcing cockup was Capita (the outsourcer) slashing the rates of pay of interpreters. This pay-slash caused a boycott by the best qualified (Tier 1) interpreters, resulting in an unacceptable level of Capita's failure to provide suitable interpreters when required.

The January 2014 report includes a graph showing how Capita have done recruiting interpreters between October 2012 and November 2013

While Capita have managed to triple the number of Tier 3 interpreters, and double the number of Tier 2 interpreters, the number of the best qualified Tier 1 interpreters has only increase by less than one fifth (17%). Perhaps due to the ongoing boycott by the best interpreters, perhaps due to a policy of using lowest cost interpreters regardless of their qualifications.

Cuts in the Justice System don't only affect defendants. Cuts to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have meant prosecutors have been unable to pursue cases properly. According to a report by the Bureau of Investigation, Michael Turner QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said:

‘the supposed budget cuts have resulted in no savings at all for the criminal justice system. At the end of the day if weaknesses are leading to breakdowns and re-trials then the tax payer ends up spending more money in the long run.’

‘If your case is in the lime-light you’ll get the best silks [barristers] rolled out for you…if not then there’s a chance your case will go to those who are simply not equipped to prosecute the trial properly.’

Justice denied one person is justice escaped by another. Once the cops have got a conviction for a mugging or burglary they aren't likely to look any further. The "vast majority of voters" will hopefully bear this in mind.

According to the Capita "Interpreter Handbook" interpreters are classed according to their skills and qualifications, with Capita paying a lower rate for the less well qualified:

Tier 1 - the highest level, requiring one or more of the following:

  • Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Public Service Interpreting , DPSI, (English Law Option)
  • Chartered Institute of Linguists Certificate in Community Interpreting , CCI ( the forerunner to the DPSI)
  • Metropolitan Police Test (post 1997) together with either a DPSI (Health or Local Government Option) or an Honours Degree or higher in Interpreting
 Tier 2 - the medium level:
  • ‘Partial DPSI’ ( English Law Option) i.e. the interpreter must have passed all modules with the exception of written translation (component 3b ( written translation in English).
  • A degree in linguistics, English philology, Modern Languages or MA in Teaching of English, or other language related
 Tier 3 - the lowest level:
  • Demonstrable experience in the public sector with appropriate linguistic background; 
  • Formalised basic interpreter training including one of the following: The WEA Programmes, Bi-Lingual Skills Certificates and Community Level Interpreting Degrees under the NVQ certification system


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