Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Government fee cut ‘led to interpreter blunder’

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/government-fee-cut-led-to-interpreter-blunder/5059322.article 
10 January 2017 by Monidipa Fouzder

Government fee cut ‘led to interpreter blunder’
Professional interpreters have blamed government fee cuts for problems that have arisen in courtroom interpreting, following news that sentencing of a man who attacked two police officers with a hammer was delayed because his interpreter went to the wrong court.
The Daily Mail reported this week that an interpreter who could speak Afghan-born Jamshid Piruz’s Dari language went to a court in a different town at the wrong time, without telling anyone.
Piruz will now be sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday, the report states. The Mail said his case ‘exposes the Ministry of Justice’s shambolic privatisation of legal translation services’.
Leeds-headquartered international language services company thebigword, which took over from Capita Translation and Interpreting to provide courtroom interpreting in October, confirmed it was asked to provide an interpreter for the hearing.
In a statement, thebigword chief executive Larry Gould said: ‘We were asked to provide an interpreter to Lewes Crown Court for Friday 6 January at 9.30am.
‘We did so. However, the sentencing hearing was in fact scheduled to take place at Hove Crown Court at 2pm. Once we were made aware of the different venue and time, we made every possible effort to send an interpreter to Hove Crown Court. We did succeed in sourcing another interpreter but the hearing had already been adjourned.’
Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J), an umbrella group representing more than 2,000 interpreters from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, told the Gazette that problems arise when inexperienced people are used to stand in for professionals.
PI4J’s Alan Thompson said: ‘Any professional interpreter who is given a court assignment will check the location of the court, the time the case is listed and, where possible, the court number beforehand. They will also research their route to the court and the time required to reach it.
‘On arrival at the court, the first thing they will do is to report to court staff. They would never leave the building without first being released by the court.
‘The problem arises when inexperienced people are used to stand in for the professionals. They are unfamiliar with court procedure and do not know what to do. That is why blunders like this occur.’
The Gazette understands that thebigword was made aware of the different venue when the interpreter discovered the error in the morning and subsequently contacted thebigword.
A spokesperson for the MoJ said: ‘We introduced a new system for booking interpreters in 2012, as the previous system was costly and inefficient. Since this change complaints remain low and so far we have saved £48m for the taxpayer.’
However, PI4J said the ministry ‘may have saved a few pounds here by cutting the interpreter’s fee, but the ensuing chaos has cost the taxpayer thousands’.
The ministry remained tight-lipped on how many complaints have been received about interpreting services since the new language services contracts came into force.
Details of the number of complaints relating to the language services contracts appear in the ministry’s quarterly statistics. Figures relating to the latest contracts have yet to be published.

Friday, 6 January 2017

FARCICAL! Afghan killer who came to UK and beat police with a hammer has sentencing delayed... because translator went to wrong town

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4096092/FARCICAL-Afghan-killer-came-UK-beat-police-hammer-sentencing-delayed-translator-went-wrong-town.html 
6 January 2017

FARCICAL! Afghan killer who came to UK and beat police with a hammer has sentencing delayed... because translator went to wrong town
An Afghan murderer who attacked two police officers with a hammer after arriving in Britain could not be punished yesterday – because his interpreter went to the wrong court.
Around £10,000 of taxpayers’ money was wasted on a judge, barristers, three police officers and court clerks for the sentencing of Jamshid Piruz.
An interpreter who could speak his Dari language was booked for the hearing because the 34-year-old, who beheaded a Dutch woman in 2007, has such poor English.
But the language expert went to a court in a different town at the wrong time and went home without telling anyone.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC demanded a ‘full written explanation’ from the person responsible for informing the court of the error. Piruz will now be sentenced at Hove Crown Court next Friday.
The case exposes the Ministry of Justice’s shambolic privatisation of legal translation services. MPs and spending watchdogs say a catastrophic shortage of interpreters has made courts rely on Google Translate, a basic and time-consuming online translation service.
More than 2,600 court cases have been adjourned in the past five years because of failures in the interpreting service.
‘This illustrates perfectly what a farce the criminal justice system is in the UK and how inefficient the courts are,’ said Philip Davies, a Tory MP on the Commons justice committee.
‘Taxpayers’ money is being completely squandered on nonsense like this. You really couldn’t make it up. How hard can it be to make sure an interpreter turns up at the right court at the right time?’
Lord Marks, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, said: ‘It is utterly farcical that cases have to be rescheduled because the interpreter does not turn up.
‘How can they not know what day they are needed? I understand mistakes happen but this is just not on. Many interpreters are dedicated professionals and a few just let everyone down.’
[…] About 10,000 foreign nationals are in UK prisons, around 11 per cent of the total prison population, with many needing interpreters at their numerous court hearings and appeals.
Courts across England used to rely on local interpreters but in January 2012 ministers handed a monopoly to Capita Translation and Interpreting.
It prompted a wave of criticism from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, which previously provided courts with language experts.
MPs were told the company had failed to send interpreters to up to a fifth of trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or used incompetent employees.
In October, the heavily-criticised £168 million contract was handed to Leeds-based translation service The Big Word.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We introduced a new system for booking interpreters in 2012, as the previous system was costly and inefficient.
‘Since this change complaints remain low and so far we have saved £48 million for the taxpayer.’

Monday, 2 January 2017

Whistleblower - “The deaf are still being failed. Nothing has changed.”

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/335733/whistleblower-deaf-still-failed-nothing-changed/ 
2 January 2017

Whistleblower — “The deaf are still being failed. Nothing has changed.”
The Courier has learnt complaints are regularly made by deaf people over a lack of access to sign language interpreters.
A key figure within Dundee’s charitable sector for the deaf and hard of hearing claims an “inflexible” booking system is leading to interpreters failing to make medical appointments for people reliant on their services.
It’s further claimed a basic lack of awareness on the part of doctors and medical staff is leading to interpreters often not being booked when necessary.
The complaints, its said, have all been passed to NHS Tayside, but very little has been addressed.
The allegations come just two years after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervened in the case of an elderly Perth woman left in hospital for six days without access to an interpreter.
Claiming nothing has improved since then, the whistleblower said: “Deaf people are still turning up to appointments and there is no one there.
“It’s not the interpreter’s problem, they’re there to do a job and are frustrated too.
“It’s the booking system that isn’t flexible enough.
“Interpreters are only given a yes or no option and can’t come back and say: “I can’t do four o’clock, but I can do quarter past”.
“We’re meant to be moving towards a situation where interpreters are booked before an appointment is made, but that is not happening.”
The whistleblower continued: “People working in doctor surgeries and hospitals also often don’t see BSL (British Sign Language) as a language and think deaf people can lip read.
“One deaf man was admitted to hospital three times in January and each time it took at least three days before they got an interpreter in — and that was only after his family kicked up.
“Two years are up, but there doesn’t seem to have been any real noticeable change.”
NHS Tayside Diversity and Inclusion Manager Santosh Chima insisted the healthboard has worked closely with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to deploy a “high quality, person-centred service”.
She said: “NHS Tayside has worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the last two years to make improvements to interpretation and translation services.
“We meet with representatives of the deaf community through the Health and Deaf Action Group which has been set up to involve, consult and engage with deaf service users to help shape and improve access to NHS services.
“Currently NHS Tayside is in the process of reviewing its contract with Dundee Translation and Interpreting Services.
“We will be carrying out a full options appraisal process, in partnership with deaf and deafblind communities, to ensure that we continue to deliver a high quality, person-centred service that is fit for the future.”