Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Elena Irimia

1. My name is Elena Irimia, and I am writing this in a personal capacity as a fully-qualified NRPSI interpreter for the Romanian language. I have been interpreting for the past six years and have accumulated several thousand hours of experience for the police, prisons, magistrates courts, and crown court proceedings. From my own direct experience I would like to submit the following evidence which relates to area 3 of the scope of the inquiry, namely the experience of courts and prisons services in receiving interpretation services that meet their needs.

2. On 6 February 2012 I attended Derby Magistrates Court having being booked by Derbyshire Police through the agency CINTRA. Whilst waiting at the court I engaged an ALS linguist in conversation. Her name is Leila Sjagailo, a Latvian who had been resident in the UK for approximately four years, and had hitherto being working as a cleaner in Wakefield. She told me that she had taken some interpreting exams but had failed them. She had made an on-line application to register with ALS, and had received court assignments almost straight away, without having being subject to any form of assessment, nor did she have any CRB clearance. This was not her first court booking She also said that she had never spoken to anyone at ALS in person or via the telephone, so it is clear that no-one at ALS had ever heard her speak in English, Russian or Latvian.

3. In February 2012 I received a telephone call from a Romanian named Claudia, a person I had met on previous occasions. Claudia was working as an intern with a firm of solicitors in Leicester, so I knew she had some experience providing interpreting in a legal environment, although she did not have any interpreting qualifications, nor had she been CRB checked. She had applied on-line to join ALS, and had a 10 minute phone conversation (in English only) with someone at ALS, and just received her first court booking at Derby Magistrates. She phoned to ask me for advice as she did not know what to expect, nor what would be expected of her. I deduced from this that she had not received any training or mentoring from ALS in preparation for working in court, which is stark contrast to the extensive training which I had received.

September 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013