There has been an interesting development in the ALS/Capita/Ministry of Justice interpreting saga in that the Ministry of Justice has gagged courts from reporting interpreting problems to the Justice Select Committee according to this article.
It seems that the Ministry has set up a central collating service to record complaints about the interpreting service and in doing has effectively prevented magistrates from providing data to the House of Commons Justice select committee.
However the devil is in the detail as they say and there are a couple of comments towards the end of the article which caught my attention.
The first of these is from Peter Beeke chairman of Peterborough Magistrates court He warned the committee about relying on statistical reports from Whitehall, saying: “I am told that there is a new logging system for ALS and other service-provider failures. This will only record the amount of court time lost due to such failures.
“This will seriously understate the real cost, but will look good when Whitehall reports to Parliament. You should regard such reports with the greatest scepticism. It will not show extra costs for prosecutors, defence lawyers, secure transport services and custody costs.”
The second is from Geoffrey Buckingham, chairman of another body representing translators in the criminal-justice system, the Association of Police and Court Interpreters, added:
“The amount of money that is being wasted in ancillary costs is colossal.”
These ancillary costs are pushing up the bill every time Capita et al fails to provide an interpreter for a court hearing. There is the cost of the court, the defence, the prosecutor, the cost of transport, the potential cost of witnesses and police time together with the costs of the court itself. All of whom have to reconvene at a later date to take part in a judicial process that should already have been completed.
I wonder who the bill goes to whenever a case is adjourned because no interpreter is present? I suspect it goes to the tax payer – whereas perhaps it should go to Capita or a.n.other organisation that agreed to supply the interpreter on that day.
So not only are we paying Capita to provide the service we are also paying whenever they fail to provide the service but we have no idea as to how much this might be costing us!
Tom Pride sums this up very well in his blog post on this story and asks whether the government might extend this gagging strategy to other areas of the public sector?