Listing officers in Magistrates’ and Crown Courts currently directly identify and contact registered interpreters and engage them directly. Once the assignment is complete, invoices are processed for each assignment. This is viewed as inefficient by the Government. The Ministry of Justice has therefore explored, with the market and agencies, how interpretation and translation can be delivered more efficiently. This exercise is the so-called “competitive dialogue”.
From this exercise, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) anticipated that a “framework agreement” with a number of preferred suppliers will emerge. This will set out a template or “call-off” contract where the agency replaces the administrative roles of the courts and other criminal justice providers.
“Speak Up, Speak Out” knows that this form of outsourcing will create problems due to poor agencies undercutting quality to win contracts. High quality interpretation services should be ensured through the terms of each contract and regulatory responsibilities upheld.
Now that the MoJ has signed the Framework Agreement with Applied Language Solutions (ALS), there are serious concerns about:
• the inadequate safeguards to the quality of interpreters for the criminal justice system
• the National Agreement becoming obsolete
• the potential danger of data relating to interpreters and the data of any non-English person in need of an interpreter being exported to countries outside the EEA