Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Laura Orsini

Outsourcing of CJS interpreting services

Thank you for this opportunity to express my views in relation to the enquiry into the provision of interpreting and translation by Applied Language Solutions (ALS) under the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement.

I am an Italian interpreter and translator with following qualifications:

MA in Bilingual Translation, Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (English Law),

MET Test for Interpreters, Higher Certificate in Legal Studies.

I am security vetted and NRPSI registered and a member of APCI.

In my professional capacity, between 2004 and 2011 I have had the privilege to be of service to the criminal justice agencies in England and Wales, but since February this year with the implementation of the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement with Applied Language Solutions, I have refused to carry out any interpreting assignments for Her Majesty Court Service due to:

the humiliating terms and conditions offered by ALS to interpreters;

ALS flawed in-house assessment, akin to setting up a health clinic and self-assessing your own medical practitioners;

the devaluation of the profession through the ALS tier system, allegedly an opportunity for under-qualified people to acquire experience. I acquired all of my experience only after obtaining full qualifications. The DPSI qualification is a minimum requirement and only the first step on a continuous professional development ladder;

In particular, 8 months into the implementation of the Ministry of Justice Framework Agreement with Applied Language Solutions, it is clear that the new provider has but disregard for justice and the quality standards of interpreting, a conduct that has led unqualified workers to hinder the administration of justice, has blighted my profession and it is wasting public money.

I cannot help but feel that Applied Language Solutions is defrauding this government and by extension the people of Great Britain by neglecting their contractual provisions and forcing the courts to accept the services of unqualified unprepared and unvetted non-terpreters to whom it pays substandard wages.

I fully appreciate the need for the criminal justice agencies to ensure value for money whilst continuing to provide a consistent and effective service to their communities and strongly believe that it is possible to achieve this, not by outsourcing the service to a profit-driven, incompetent and fraudulent agency or any other private agency, but by talking with the interpreters and their organisations and by listening to their proposals that would enable a return to the smooth running of justice as well as savings by retaining the human resources currently populating the National Register, that is qualified, competent, dedicated and security vetted interpreters and translators.

August 2012

A plethora of press articles currently circulating, describing the total chaos caused to Courts/Tribunals by ALS’ abject failure to service their contract is available on http://www.linguistlounge.org/index.php/news).

The Government has admitted that the controversial ALS interpreter contract will not save £12 million. http://www.lackuna.com/2012/07/12/government-admits-controversial-als-interpreter-contract-will-not-save-12m/

The Web site of the Professional Interpreters for Justice Campaign http://www.unitetheunion.org/sectors/community_youth_workers/unite_and_your_organisation/national_union_of_professional/professional_interpreters_for.aspx

Prepared 5th February 2013