Justice CommitteeSupplementary evidence from Capita following the evidence session on 30 October 2012


Interpreter Numbers Update

Tier 1: 655 interpreters covering 1,242 languages.
Tier 2: 321 interpreters covering 582 languages.
Tier 3: 191 interpreters covering 370 languages.

All interpreters are vetted to ECRB level, NPPV Level 2 or above save for a small number of NRPSI interpreters for which evidence of this security clearance has not yet been obtained. In agreement with the Ministry, these interpreters will be removed from the supplier base should this evidence not be provided by 30 November 2012.

All interpreters have provided us with qualification details which have been verified and recorded save for a small number of NRPSI interpreters for which evidence of these qualifications has not yet been obtained. In agreement with the Ministry, these interpreters will be removed from the supplier base should this evidence not be provided by 30 November 2012.

Of the interpreters on the supplier base currently, 635 interpreters have been assessed and of those 210 have been marked.

Of the interpreters on the supplier base, c. 420 interpreters are or have been registered with NRPSI.

Of Tier 1 interpreters, 48% are qualified to interpret in more than 1 language.
Of Tier 2 interpreters, 47% are qualified to interpret in more than 1 language.
Of Tier 3 interpreters, 54% are qualified to interpret in more than 1 language.

Please explain how the quality of interpretation is independently verified after a complaint is made?

When ALS receives an issue about quality, the interpreter is contacted to discuss the particular issue with them. The action will depend on the type of issue received for example:

Issues of gross misconduct, defined in the terms and conditions, mean the interpreter will permanently suspended such as in the Winchester case where an interpreter sent her husband. Coincidently this was a NRPSI interpreter who is still on the register and can be contacted by any Criminal Justice organisation not on the framework.

If the interpreter is late or did not show this will be discussed with the interpreter to establish the reason for the lateness or “no show”. These types of quality issues are recorded on a rolling basis. Repeat issues will be addressed by suspending the interpreter temporarily or permanently. The reason for lateness/“no show” will be taken into account.

If an issue is raised about the quality of the actual interpreting, again this is discussed with the interpreter and a review is conducted on the number of jobs completed and the number of complaints received. The type of quality issue will also form part of the assessment. Where an interpreter assignment has been recorded, an independent verification of the skills of the interpreter can be carried out.

Where possible, we would look at further training for the interpreter.

What are the remaining issues with frontline court and tribunal staff and the judiciary that you are continuing to work with MoJ to resolve?

We are not aware of any remaining issues with front line staff in the Courts or Tribunals other than those which are part of the day to day running of an operation such as a specific issue regarding an assignment. One of the issues at the beginning of the agreement was the lack of communication. This has been addressed by the introduction of a team of Relationship Coordinators who are in continuous dialogue with frontline staff—we have received some very positive feedback from frontline staff.

The Ministry has built a robust communication mechanism allowing it to communicate any important information from ALS to its frontline staff.

What investment has been made in assessment processes and with what effect?

The assessment centre process was proposed by previous ALS management as part of the framework as a language based assessment over and above the professional qualification already obtained by the interpreter. It was ALS’ intention to undertake an assessment for every interpreter regardless of the language spoken.

Whilst the theory of this assessment sounds plausible, in practice it was possible to assess the interpreters, but it was not possible to mark the assessments in every language. This became apparent during Capita ownership. The assessment centre process was discussed with the Ministry and proposals have now been put to the Ministry for its consideration, which move away from a language based assessment and focus more on familiarisation of processes and procedures for the Criminal Justice Sector as well as for ALS.

The professional qualifications gained by interpreters through independent organisations such as the Institute of Linguists, test the interpreters’ language capability and it is not appropriate for ALS to test interpreters over and above the professional qualification they have already obtained. The real benefit of an induction programme is to ensure interpreters are fully familiar with what is expected of them in their role. A crucial part of this is the “buddy” system which has been proposed, where a new interpreter spends a day with an experienced interpreter in a Court or Tribunal.

Please provide us with details of the assessment processes that you have developed/are developing, including those for rarer languages

The induction programme proposed to the Ministry is applicable to all interpreters regardless of the language they speak. A brief outline of the process is documented in Appendix B. Please note this proposal and process is in draft form and needs to be discussed further with the Ministry.

How do you verify qualifications or experience gained overseas?

We do not receive many overseas qualifications, where these qualifications are received; these can be translated by our translation department. Experience obtained by interpreters is predominantly UK based experience rather than overseas. Should experience been gained overseas, we would seek a reference to verify the experience gained.

What is the nature of the familiarisation training?

The familiarisation training referred to are the Criminal Justice workshops which have been set up by ALS for those interpreters who are already familiar with the Criminal Justice system and whom have undertaken interpreting work within this sector previously. The Criminal Justice workshops support interpreters in the role they undertake on behalf of ALS. The workshops include:

Updates on processes and procedures.

Familiarisation with Criminal Justice organisations’ specific processes to enable interpreters to work across courts, tribunals, police and probation services.

Support with ALS systems (on-line booking acceptance, timesheets).

Refresher training on the importance of conduct on the job.

Opportunity for interpreters to network, ask questions and provide feedback to ALS.

Capita is working closely with the Ministry to ensure that parts of this programme are an integral part of the overall induction process on which ALS is in discussion with the Ministry.

What is the extent of other training required for interpreters currently on your supplier base to become competent in delivering services in the criminal justice sector?

ALS interpreters are competent in delivering services to the Criminal Justice sector. Interpreters at Tier 1 and 2 are qualified to interpret and have undertaken work in the Criminal Justice sector.

What opportunities are you providing for interpreters on your supplier base with regards to continuous professional development?

We have engaged an external industry expert who is supporting ALS in identifying and preparing training for interpreters. The Criminal Justice Workshops have been an excellent forum to identify further training requirements for interpreters. It is through these workshops we identified the need for interpreters to become more familiar with the specifics of a variety of Criminal Justice organisations. There are examples where interpreters have worked in Court for many years but have never undertaken an assignment at a Police station.

We will continue to identify opportunities for continuous professional development, however, at this moment, we only run the Criminal Justice Workshops.

What is your estimate of how much additional money had been spent on the contract by the end of October?

Capita has invested in excess £5.4 million to rectify the service delivery. This has made a significant difference and as a result performance as well as customer service has improved over a period of months. Some of the specific investments made include:

Mobilised and deployed an experienced management team.

Significantly increased back-office resources (75 FTE).

Mobilised a team of experts to support the operation on process implementation, project management and management information.

Absorbed costs in relation to increased interpreter payments, bonuses and incentives.

Absorbed increased travel costs incurred by interpreters.

Invested in the IT system.

Rectified inadequate processes and procedures.

Performance has improved to 95% in August and whilst this is not yet in line with the contractual agreement of 98% it is a considerable improvement in comparison to when the service first went live. Complaints have dropped significantly. Complaints from criminal courts have dropped from 9.9% in February to 1.4% in August, for Civil and Family Courts the complaints have dropped from 5.8% to 0.6%. Tribunal complaints have also dropped from 17.1% to 5.2%.

Please could you provide the Committee with fuller information on your targets for specific languages and regions where there is a shortfall in interpreters for the existing contract with HMCTS

The table below shows the delivery percentage by region. An increase in interpreter numbers in this region will improve service delivery. We have detailed information on the languages which specifically affect the service delivery in a particular region.



















































Grand Total










By way of example, 20 languages account for 80% of the volumes. Of those 20 languages, five languages are currently performing between 91% and 95%. It is those languages where we specifically target our recruitment.


Our recruitment strategy is working well, by way of example, in the w/c 5th of November 2012 20 new interpreters were recruited.

Reasons behind the agreement between Mr Wheeldon and other members of ALS’ senior management team and Capita to part company

Mr Wheeldon continued as CEO of Applied Language Solutions post the acquisition by Capita. Over time it became clear that Mr Wheeldon’s view on how to take the business forward differed from the view held by the Capita Board. As a result it was mutually decided that Mr Wheeldon would pursue his career elsewhere.

As part of an acquisition there are sometimes changes at senior management level. Capita review the capability of the senior management team and make adjustments where necessary to enable the business to be supported appropriately. In addition, post acquisition, senior managers may not have an interest in working as part of a larger company.

Please provide evidence to confirm the exact dates when a) Middlesex University terminated the agreement regarding assessments and b) the MoJ were informed that this agreement had been terminated?

ALS had discussions with Middlesex University in December 2011 to discuss the speed at which the marking was taking place. These discussions continued into the New Year of 2012. On 3 January 2012 Middlesex University informed ALS that it no longer wished to continue the agreement but that it was happy to continue to provide the software under a separate agreement. Discussions continued to formalise the termination of the agreement which we believe was signed on or around 17 February 2012. A separate agreement was put in place for continued use of the assessment centre software.

The Ministry was aware of the problems with Middlesex University as through the results on number of assessments marked, progress, or lack of it, was tracked. We first informed the Ministry by telephone, and therefore cannot recall the exact date of when ALS informed the Ministry of the termination of the agreement with Middlesex. However, subsequent risk logs of 13 and 19 January 2012 which were shared and discussed with the Ministry indicate the actions which ALS had taken as a result of the termination of the agreement.

Please provide us with any evidence you have to support claims that interpreters on your supplier database have been subject to intimidation by other interpreters

We did not anticipate the intimidation, verbal and in some cases physical abuse, interpreters who worked for ALS had to experience. The instances reported to ALS were shocking and ALS advised interpreters to contact the Police in these instances. The Ministry and ALS also worked closely together to ensure ALS interpreters were not intimidated and did not suffer any abuse verbal or otherwise. The Ministry made available to interpreters the option to speak with Court security staff when such instances occurred. Thankfully this level of intimidation has reduced, however, we still receive occasional instances from interpreters who experience intimidation.

It would be inappropriate to provide you with full detail of the individuals involved in this memorandum, therefore I am sharing with you a few anonymous instances. I have full detail of the individuals involved.

“[ALS interpreter] turned up for an assignment and was faced by [name of NPRSI interpreter] who used threatening language and followed [ALS interpreter] all day from room to room humiliating the interpreter. [The ALS interpreter] informed the Judge and the Judge asked for the [NRPSI interpreter] to be removed.”

“I’m Registered NRPSI interpreter and I have registered with ALS.
I am concerned as I have just received a text message from one of NRSPI interpreters [name of interpreter] telling me that I sold myself cheeply to work for ALS.
I believe she found my telephone number on the National Register list of interpreters. Yesterday evening someone left a large broken mirror in front of my house at the entrance door covered with red paint and words ‘bloody Mary’.
I thought I would let you know as I am now aware of threatening campaign against interpreters working for ALS.”

“Photograph of an alleged assault on an interpreter”.

Text message: “U still help als! U shd look up the def of monopoly.’ ...pay reduced as soon as competition is eliminated...’. U’re only helping als destroy us. We hv mortgages 2, sm small kids. Thnk about it, we sacrifice ourslvs, n 4 nothing. Thanks t yr kind. At least for a couple of weeks tk a break, dnt stab yr own in the back, 2 ugly t betray us, pt 30 de arginti... Shame!”.

Text message: “4 as long as u help als destroy us, i cnt talk t u, makes me sick. May yr kind b cursed.”

Photograph of alleged assault. (Not printed)



Step 1

Interpreter registers on linguist lounge and completes a full or partial application. Interpreter uploads documentation onto Linguist Lounge (interim solution is post or email). Key information captured:


Security clearance.


References (where applicable).

Step 2

Linguist Relations Team review the registration and review if all appropriate documentation is attached to the application. If all the information has been provided and is verified, we may, on rare occasions, assign the interpreter a tier so that they can commence work ahead of the induction programme. However we would only do this in cases where there is a shortage in the language and only in agreement with the Ministry of Justice.

Step 2a

If any documentation is missing, the Linguist Relations Team will contact the interpreter and request the missing information.

Should the interpreter not hold the appropriate qualifications they will be notified that the registration will not proceed.

Should the interpreter not hold the appropriate security clearance, their details will be passed to “The Security Watchdog” where the security clearance process will take place (for the avoidance of doubt, the security clearance itself will be done by CRB but the process and admin will be managed by TSW who are part of Capita). TSW will, at the same time process the NPPV check required by the Police Authorities. If the interpreter holds NPPV level 2 or above then the interpreter will not require ECRB clearance also. Once the clearance is obtained the process continues.

Step 3

The Linguist Relations Team will record on the database the following information obtained from the documentation:

Qualifications held.

Security clearance held including (issuing agency, date of issue, convictions yes/no, document number).


Step 4

The interpreter will be contacted by telephone and will undergo a brief interview which enables the interpreter to share with ALS his/her experience within the Criminal Justice Sector. A copy of the interview notes will be stored on the interpreter file.

Step 5

The interpreter is invited to the induction programme.

Step 6

The interpreter, where required, is scheduled to attend a work shadow assignment.


Step 7

The interpreter will attend an Induction Programme.

Step 8

The interpreter identity will be checked together with proof of residence.

Step 9

Proof of Qualifications and Security check, security forms are completed where appropriate (upgrade to NPPV).

Step 10

ID card produced and handed to the interpreter.

Step 11

Overview of who Applied Language Solutions are and the services that are offered and how the service works eg Linguist Lounge, Mobile App, Self Serve, Call Centre.

Step 12

Overview of working in the Criminal Justice System (video/slides) and to test the understanding of what is required.

Step 13

A copy of the Interpreter Handbook given to the interpreter and sign up to the code of conduct and T&Cs completed.

Step 14

Attendance data is confirmed to the Linguist Relations team and the interpreter receives their Tier.

Prepared 4th February 2013