The government has implemented its proposal to make changes to the provision of interpretation and translation services across the justice sector. The government stated that waste and costs needed to be cut, but that it would do so in a way that safeguarded quality. Now the government has signed a Framework Agreement with a commercial agency, namely Applied Language Solutions (ALS) for the provision of interpreters and translators in the Criminal Justice system.
Unite is concerned that the government has chosen a single provider, ignoring the concerns of the interpreting profession and other professionals in Criminal Justice. The danger of this sort of monopoly, which will be paid by the British taxpayer, will undercut professional standards and terms and conditions across the profession. Many professional interpreters are being forced to consider alternative careers due to the cuts in rates for assignments.
If interpreters are not adequately paid, the appropriately qualified individuals will not enter the profession and people in need will not get the service they require.
Interpreters play a vital role in the justice system in this country as they are a voice for people who cannot speak for themselves. If someone who cannot speak much English is the victim of a crime, witnesses wrongdoing or is accused of it themselves, they need to be able to put their point of view before justice can be done. How can they do this without interpretation by someone who knows both English and the foreign language well enough to make sure the message is put across with all the subtleties and fine distinctions which ensure that nothing is omitted or misunderstood?
Non UK citizens in this country who do not speak English are not all scroungers. Most of them work hard to provide services which give all of us a better life-style. They are here because we need them and they deserve to be properly treated by our justice system. It is not right to fob them off with second-best.
Unite wants you to help save professional interpreting and translation services by telling your MP the consequences that outsourcing services in the public sector will bring.
What's happening to interpreting services?
What issues need to be addressed?
What you can do
Speak Up, Speak Out leaflet
BIS Guidance on the Agency Worker Regulations