Monday, 28 April 2014

PQ - 28 April 2014

28 April 2014
Courts: Lancashire

Mark Hendrick (Preston, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2014, Official Report, column 703W, on translation services, how much was spent on interpreters in courts in each court in Lancashire in 2011, 2012 and 2013; which languages were interpreted; and how much was spent on interpreting each language.

Shailesh Vara (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice; North West Cambridgeshire, Conservative)
The Department does not hold centrally all of the information that has been requested. To provide the information would incur disproportionate cost.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hull MP Karl Turner's anger over Rolands Brize case 
23 April 2014

Sex attack sentencing 'scandal': Hull MP Karl Turner's anger over Rolands Brize case
MP Karl Turner has criticised delays in the sentencing of a sex attacker after the court case was postponed 11 times. Rolands Brize attacked the 23-year-old woman as she walked along Myton Bridge in Castle Street, Hull city centre, after a night out in March last year.
He admitted attempting to rape the woman and was due to be sentenced in May last year.
But now, the case has been postponed for the 11th time, meaning the victim has been forced to wait more than a year to see Brize brought to justice.
Mr Turner said: "No wonder this woman has been left thinking her attacker is being treated better by the justice system than her, the victim."
In the most recent postponement, doctors have said they need more time to fully assess the extent of Brize's mental illness, despite him pleading guilty to attacking the woman in April last year.
Mr Turner believes changes to the fees paid to expert witnesses such as psychiatrists have caused the delays.
The Hull East MP said: "This has meant fewer experts are available to do reports, which are required before the judge can sentence the offender.
"It's also apparent that an interpreter is required. It's very difficult for courts to arrange interpreters due to changes in Ministry of Justice contracts two years ago.
"Although these changes may appear to be saving money, the reality is the cuts are proving to be more costly in the long run."

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Children missing school to interpret English for parents 
15 Apr 2014

Children missing school to interpret English for parents
Report to a council watchdog finds that children are missing lessons to help their parents as concerns are raised over the practice
Children have been taking time out of school to interpret for their parents who are unable to speak English, a new report has claimed.
The report to a council watchdog in Leeds, West Yorkshire, has raised concerns over the practice – including the pressure on the child, the potential for family conflicts, and the fact that they are missing lessons.
The absences were high enough to spark a review over the extent to which children can be allowed to aid their parents, as front line staff report at least three instances a week of children being used as interpreters.
Under 16s cannot be taken out of school during term time without good reason, and local councils have the power to fine or prosecute parents who do not ensure their child attends regularly.
The practice was exposed during a review of interpreting and translation services used to access council services, which cost taxpayers in Leeds £127,000 between April and September last year, by the council's Scrutiny Board.
The report presented to the Resources and Council Services says: "There are concerns with the use of children as interpreters. Although it is not usual practice to use children under 18 as interpreters, it is recognised professional discretion can be used.
"It should not be viewed as usual practice but ... emergency situations may allow professional discretion to ensure immediate safety and welfare.
"Discussions have taken place with other local authorities and although they don't have a policy stating whether children should be used as interpreters, the general rule is children are not used as interpreters apart from passing on short messages."
The report warns that the adults can get frustrated with the children and sometimes come to the council building alone and persuade a young person in the library who they recognise to interpret for them, even though they are not even related.
The board recommends that "children would not be used for interpreting purposes except in emergency situations".
The watchdog committee at Leeds City Council carried out the interpreting inquiry after concerns were raised about the efficiency of the service and whether it provided value for money.
Freelance interpreters can charge the authority £18 an hour between 7am and 7pm, and £27 after 7pm and at weekends.
Telephone interpreters cost £13 an hour, with translation work a minimum of £19 based on word count.
The authority was billed £67,000 between April and September last year for one to one interpreters, with a £12,000 sum for phone interpreters and £48,000 for written translations.
The report noted the need to reduce costs.
Councillor Ron Wood, spokesman for the committee, said the key was to make the service "run more efficiently".
He said: "We want to see a fair, consistent policy that provides assistance where needed, but which ultimately also encourages people to learn English and feel part of the community they live in."
Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said a decision on interpreting and translation policies will be made "at the appropriate time".

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Cumbria's top judge criticises interpreter delays 
12 April 2014

Cumbria's top judge criticises interpreter delays
Cumbria's top judge has demanded an explanation after a case at Carlisle Crown Court had to be put off for the second time because there was no interpreter available.
A man of Pakistani origin – who speaks Urdu and only a little English – was due to be sentenced yesterday on charges involving a knife and threats to his partner.
But the hearing had to be adjourned after it emerged that, though an interpreter had been booked to help Arjun Amar from Kendal understand what was going on, none turned up. It was the second time the case has had to be adjourned.
A previous hearing could not go ahead for exactly the same reason.
Judge Paul Batty QC, Carlisle’s Honorary Recorder, described the situation as “unacceptable” and ordered a written report from the company which should have provided the interpreter – Capita Translation Services.
“I simply do not understand how this situation has arisen,” he said. “It certainly should not have done.”