Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Marketa Moskvikova

I am writing to you as a qualified and experience Czech interpreter. I am appalled by the current interpreting situation in the Criminal Justice sector. The outsourcing of the CJS interpreting by the Ministry of Justice to Applied Language Solution/Capita has led to a dramatic decrease in my workload as I refuse to be associated with ALS/Capita in any shape or form. I find the company and its practices unethical and the whole Framework agreement flawed and opened to abuse. The outsourcing was meant to be to a single agency, yet we have information from all over the country that various agencies of different sizes supply courts with interpreters. The payment conditions by ALS/Capita can only attract unqualified and inexperienced interpreters. I have a first hand experience in meeting one of the ALS/Capita interpreters at a Crown Court trial in Leeds. Please see:


On the first day of the trial a Slovak “interpreter” turned up, instead of a Czech one. He was had no interpreting qualification whatsoever. He was very nervous as he has never interpreted at a Crown Court before. His clothing was inappropriate—very casual. He expected the trial to last very short time, those were instructions from ALS/Capita and therefore he accepted a further booking on the day in Birmingham to take a statement at police station. Due to the Crown Court case not proceeding immediately he had to postpone the statement taking in Birmingham knowing that the custody clock is ticking and police desperately need to take a statement. Luckily for the defendant and the non interpreter, the trial did not proceed on the day and he was asked to return the following day, when for a change no interpreter turned up, wasting thousands of pounds.

I can understand that the government is trying to save money, but money could have been saved in many different ways rather then by outsourcing and seriously compromising quality of interpreting. Various interpreting organisations attempted to have a dialog with the Ministry of Justice prior to the Framework agreement, unfortunately to no avail.

Having interpreted in the CJS environment for three years I have noted that interpreters have not been used as efficiently as they could have been and lots of money could have been saved by effective communication between police (also within the police) and courts. That way it could have been ensured a sufficient number of interpreters arriving in court. Equally, cases with interpreters could have been prioritised avoiding unnecessary waiting of interpreters and incurring extra cost. There are many more alternatives that would have let to cost saving unlike the infamous Framework Agreement, which simply cannot be a cost saving solution.

I have many doubts as to the appropriateness of the procurement process and the very intention to outsource to a single language provider. As mentioned earlier, ALS/Capita have lot been the only supplier for a very long time. There are serious questions of quality and security checks.

As far as I know there is not any effective complaint process in place. It is all in hands of ALS/Capita. They are not being closely monitored and even their latest survey results are utterly biased. No one ever checks their performance closely.

In my opinion, there is very little that is being done in rectifying under-performance as ALS/Capita still mainly recruits unqualified and inexperienced and there is no one checking this and raising concerns unless cases hit the headlines. The matter is serious as grave miscarriages of justice could be happening. Every person in the UK has right to a fair trial and without being able to communicate effectively, make themselves understood and understand the process violates this basic right.

I would urge you to investigate the Framework Agreement and the language service provision by Applied Language Solutions/Capita as a matter of urgency to enable victims of crime, witnesses and perpetrators to have access to qualified and experienced interpreters from the National Register of Public Service interpreters.

August 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013