Committee chair Sir Alan Beith said that the MoJ’s “handling of the outsourcing of court interpreting services has been nothing short of shambolic. It did not have an adequate understanding of the needs of courts, it failed to heed warnings from the professionals concerned, and it did not put sufficient safeguards in place to prevent interruptions in the provision of quality interpreting services to courts.”
The department didn’t grasp the complexities of court interpreting, the report says, and the service providers – ALS and Capita – have struggled to recruit due to a boycott of the new arrangements by translators. These companies need more resources, the committee says, though performance has “undoubtedly improved”.
Justice minister Helen Grant said: “There were significant issues at the start of the contract in early 2012 but we took swift and robust action and have seen dramatic improvements, as the Justice Select Committee highlights. The vast majority of interpreter bookings are now being completed, and complaints have fallen considerably.”