in interpreting, sign language

MoJ Interpreting Contract: Parliamentary Questions Update

Parliamentary questions that were being asked by the MP Andy Slaughter were published on a few forums this week. The answers by Minister Crispin Blunt were sent around today and are published below. The contract started on 30th January. Two weeks in, the MoJ were made aware of the difficulties in service delivery.
Mr Blunt uses an interesting word here: safeguarding. The very nature of this contract does in fact the opposite by renegading on a National Agreement that was previously in force to use only registered interpreters. Allowing a private company to set up their own register was folly. Many spoken language interpreters are saying their names are on the ALS database even though they never agreed to it giving the agency a falsely elevated figure of interpreters willing to work for them. The stories on the ground illustrate the fact that the rights of those needing a vetted, qualified interpreter were quashed with this contract.
Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) when he was made aware of problems with the provision of translators to the courts service by Applied Language Solutions; and if he will make a statement; [96653]
(2) whether (a) he, (b) other Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department had any involvement in the acquisition of Applied Language Solutions by Capita; and if he will make a statement; [96654]
(3) whether providers of interpretation and translation services to the courts are required to undertake Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks on their employees; and whether Applied Language Solutions undertakes CRB checks on its interpreters; [96655]
(4) what long-term measures he plans to implement to ensure that Applied Language Solutions provides qualified interpreters to the courts service. [96656]
Mr Blunt: The information is as follows.
(1) Ministers were made aware of difficulties with the service provided by Applied Language Solutions on 14 February 2012. We are committed to ensuring that the rights and needs of those who require interpreters are safeguarded and we have asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance. I am receiving regular reports on progress.
(2) Neither the Secretary of State for Justice, nor Justice Ministers or Ministry of Justice officials had any involvement in the acquisition of ALS by Capita.
(3) The contractor is required to ensure appropriate Criminal Records Bureau checks are undertaken.
(4) The Ministry have made clear to the contractor that the problems must be addressed immediately. The contractor is taking urgent steps to improve performance including providing additional staff to deal with bookings, further targeted recruitment of interpreters
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in key languages and improvements to the call handling and complaints process. The Ministry is monitoring performance on a daily basis.