Yorkshire Post

‘Pri­va­tised ser­vice im­ped­ing jus­tice’

- GREG WRIGHT DEPUTY BUSI­NESS EDI­TOR Email: greg.wright@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @greg­wrightyp Justice · Law · Richard Burgon · United Kingdom Ministry of Justice

COURTS: Shadow Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Richard Bur­gon has crit­i­cised the “ide­o­log­i­cally driven” pri­vati­sa­tion of the court in­ter­pret­ing ser­vice which he claims could im­pede jus­tice.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show more than 3,200 mag­is­trates and crown court tri­als have been ad­journed since pri­vati­sa­tion due to the lack of an in­ter­preter.

Com­plaints are up in first year since the con­tract was awarded. Shadow Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Richard Bur­gon on the pri­vati­sa­tion of the ser­vice.

SHADOW JUS­TICE Sec­re­tary Richard Bur­gon has crit­i­cised the “ide­o­log­i­cally driven” pri­vati­sa­tion of the court in­ter­pret­ing ser­vice which he claims could lead to jus­tice be­ing de­nied for the vic­tims and the ac­cused.

Mr Bur­gon’s spokesman said of­fi­cial fig­ures re­vealed that more than 3,200 mag­is­trates and crown court tri­als have been ad­journed since the pri­vati­sa­tion of the court in­ter­pret­ing ser­vice in Jan­uary 2012 due to the lack of an in­ter­preter.

How­ever, a spokesman for Leeds-based the­big­word, which sup­plies in­ter­preters for court cases, said it was mis­lead­ing to claim that in­ter­pret­ing ser­vices in courts and tri­bunals were not func­tion­ing prop­erly.

A spokesman for Mr Bur­gon said that the num­ber of com­plaints in the first 12 months of the new con­tract for court in­ter­pret­ing ser­vices was 2,339, which is an in­crease on the 1,733 com­plaints made in the last year of the old con­tract.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice con­tract for pro­vid­ing in­ter­preters for court and tri­bunal ser­vices has been held by the­big­word since 2016. It was held by Capita from 2012 to 2016.

Mr Bur­gon said: “A fail­ure to en­sure a prop­erly func­tion­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion ser­vice se­ri­ously risks jus­tice be­ing de­nied for vic­tims and those ac­cused.

“It is a wor­ry­ing sign of on­go­ing fail­ure that com­plaints are up in the first 12 months since the new con­tract was awarded, com­pared to a year ear­lier.

“The Gov­ern­ment must take swift ac­tion to put an end to the flaws in this sys­tem that mean al­most half of all these com­plaints are for things as ba­sic as an in­ter­preter not at­tend­ing court or not be­ing avail­able.

“The Gov­ern­ment needs to ex­plain how it is so sure that its con­tracts are cost ef­fec­tive when it re­vealed, in re­sponse to my Par­lia­men­tary ques­tions, that it doesn’t even hold the ba­sic in­for­ma­tion on the wider costs to our jus­tice sys­tem of thou­sands of cases each year that need an in­ter­preter not be­ing ful­filled.”

A Min­istry of Jus­tice spokesman said: “We have strong con­tract man­age­ment in place, and our most re­cent sta­tis­tics show that 98 per cent of in­ter­preter book­ings are ful­filled, and com­plaints are at one per cent.

“It is vi­tal that vic­tims, wit­nesses and de­fen­dants un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing in court to en­sure jus­tice is done, and we will al­ways take steps to make sure a qual­i­fied in­ter­preter is pro­vided when needed.”

The spokesman added that, while the Min­istry of Jus­tice ac­cepts that any de­layed hear­ing due to a lack of in­ter­pre­ta­tion is un­ac­cept­able, such in­stances are few.

The most re­cent pub­lished sta­tis­tics for in­ef­fec­tive trial rates, which cov­ers the third quar­ter of 2017, show a lack of in­ter­preter avail­abil­ity was the rea­son for 0.3 per cent of tri­als be­ing in­ef­fec­tive in the mag­is­trates’ court, and 0.1 per cent of crown court tri­als, the spokes­woman said.

A spokesman for the­big­word said: “It is wholly in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing to claim that the in­ter­pret­ing ser­vice in courts and tri­bunals is not func­tion­ing prop­erly. Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics show per­for­mance con­tin­u­ously achieves ful­fil­ment of 98 per cent of as­sign­ments and the rate of com­plaints re­mains low and has re­duced.

“We strive for con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and wel­come all feed­back pro­vided about the qual­ity of our ser­vices.

“We work closely with the Min­istry of Jus­tice and jus­tice sys­tem part­ners to en­sure our ex­cel­lent ser­vices con­tinue to meet de­mand and pro­vide value for money for the tax­payer.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK