Justice CommitteeSupplementary evidence from the Ministry of Justice following the evidence session on 30 October 2012

Additional Questions

What modifications, specifically, were made to the Framework Agreement in response to the April 2011 consultation?

Modifications to the approach under the Framework included additions to the list of interpreter membership organisation recognised, and modifications to the applicable standards for deaf interpreters, following input from Signature (a charity promoting excellence in communication with deaf people). Other changes were made through the competitive dialogue process, which included input from justice sector partners.

What data were available to inform the procurement process, and where, specifically, did you seek and get data from?

Overall spend data was provided to Procurement through the Project Board acquired from each organisation individually. Procurement also collected some sample data from individual courts over a week period. Representatives from all justice sector agencies party to the Framework Agreement participated in the competitive dialogue process and had the opportunity to discuss their specific requirements.

How was ALS tested to ensure that rates of pay would be sufficient to ensure that they would attract and retain suitably qualified linguists?

We questioned all the bidders about market rates during the competitive dialogue. We were aware that courts in Scotland paid less than the ALS bid. We also looked at the website below: http://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Interpreter_or_Translator/Salary

What is your estimate of the administrative costs to courts and tribunals to date of resorting to the old arrangements?

Off contract spend between February and September is c.£1,550,000. However, we note that monthly spend has reduced from over £500k in February 2012 to just over £70k in September 2012. Spend for October 2012 off contract is not yet available. The above figure is the total of off contract spend not the difference between the old arrangements and those under the Framework.

What are the remaining issues with frontline staff and the judiciary that you are continuing to work with Capita TI to resolve (as indicated in your memorandum)?

There are two aspects to business improvement which are being taken forward. With Capita, we are reviewing quality standards (as part of our work on the second recommendation by the National Audit Office), as well as looking at attracting additional, qualified interpreters to the work. Internally, we are looking at HMCTS internal processes to ensure they are as efficient as possible. This includes financial assurance standard processes, and complaints and compensation guidance. We are also working on more detailed guidance on appropriate use of interpreters, such as interpreters assisting with post-hearing work to support bail applications or probation interview. There is inevitably overlap between the two strands of work (with Capita and with HMCTS), and we are involving people in each strand where relevant, as well as judiciary and other partners.

When was the most recent routine inspection of the register of interpreters and the work that Capita TI has done to check interpreters? What did this inspection show in terms of the absolute number of interpreters that are on the supplier base for each tier, and the proportion of those are a) fully CRB vetted, b) fully assessed to the appropriate tier and c) had their qualifications properly verified? What proportion is registered with NRPSI? What proportion of interpreters in each tier hold appropriate qualifications to enable them to interpret in more than one language?

(a) The latest information from ALS tells us that 50 NRPSI interpreters have yet to supply their security information. All others on the register have either Enhanced CRRB or NPPV 2.

(b) There are currently 1,162 individual interpreters on the register, 48% of whom can interpret in more than one language.

(a), (b) and (c) An audit took place on 24 October 2012 to check the details of a sample from the register. For that audit, all but one interpreter in the random sample of 30 checked had the appropriate security checks, The interpreter without the appropriate checks has been removed pending verification. Interpreters checked had been assigned to tiers, however, as the Committee is aware assessments are not taking place whilst the process is improved. The NRPSI status was not checked, as this is only one form of qualifying for tiering. A third of the sample required further documentation to prove their qualifications and Capita undertook to obtain this.

What guidance has been given to courts and tribunals to enable them to ascertain the appropriate tier of interpreter that should be booked?

A tier 1 or 2 interpreter should be used for all bookings, unless otherwise specifically agreed with the court or tribunal. This is set out in guidance issued to staff; the most recent version of the guidance was circulated to accompany the new version of the booking portal in September.

Why has the MoJ not yet exercised its right to inspect Capita TI? Do you have any current intentions to do so, and if so, when?

Spot checks and audits are carried out on Capita as part of ongoing management. Three sample audits have been completed to date. We intend to continue this audit regularly, as a minimum monthly. We will be scheduling one in for week commencing 26 November. Thereafter they will be monthly for the foreseeable future.

How do you respond to suggestions that there is a need for an independent regulator and arbitrator overseeing interpreting and translation services?

It is worth stating that the Framework requires all interpreters to be qualified, dependent upon the tier. These qualifications are obtained independent of Capita/ALS from recognised educational institutes, examining boards or regulatory bodies. The customer and its stakeholders are a key element of overseeing the services. If the customer (MoJ, ACPO etc) is not content with the quality and skills of an interpreter then they can remove them from the register. However, interpreting and translation services cover many sectors and there would be many issues in regulating interpreters and translators. Whilst we have not given full consideration to the possibility of an independent regulator and arbitrator, the NAO recommendations were for the contract to be implemented fully, with independent advice on the quality assessment to be obtained. We are working to implement these recommendations with Capita and the interpreting community, as well as other justice sector partners.

From the Justice Committee, 30 October 2012

[Q194–195] Please would you provide evidence to confirm the dates when you were informed by ALS that there was a) a problem with the assessment process, and b) that Middlesex University had terminated its agreement to undertake assessments?

We became aware that there was a delay in marking from Middlesex in mid-January and that ALS was in the process of discussion with other institutions to pick up the work. It was highlighted in the project’s risk register from this point. We did not know the date of termination until the NAO investigation.

[Q220–221] Communications with legal professionals about the complaints system

We will include the legal profession in our revised communications strategy, and ensure they are aware of the best way to raise concerns with HMCTS.

[Q227–230] Please would you provide us with: a) details of the number of cases in which a judge has i) accepted and ii) rejected an interpreter of a tier lower than that initially requested, and b) the general level of complaints from the judiciary regarding the quality of interpreters

(a) We do not have the specific data that you have requested, because if the judge accepts the tier 3 interpreter from the outset, it is counted as a successful booking. However, a complaint can be raised on the tiering of the interpreter. Over the period August to October, no Prisons complained about this. Sixteen complaints were received from courts or tribunals; 10 were reassigned to tier 1 or 2 interpreters in advance of the hearing, and six continued to use a tier 3 interpreter when the judge had accepted the explanation.

(b) The complaints data we receive does not record who complained, currently. We are hoping to change this in future version of portal.

[Q233–235] Please provide the fulfilment and complaints rates for NOMS and for translation services over the period in which the contract has been operating? Please would you also provide a list of indicators used to monitor Capita TI’s compliance with the FWA

Complaints in NOMS were very low, only three complaints made in the period 30 January to 31 August 2012. Delivery for Prisons compared to other justice sector partners in the Framework Agreement are below (to note that these are figures as at August 2012 and may be subsequently revised).

TOTAL DELIVERY VOLUME

Feb-12

Mar-12

Apr-12

May-12

Jun-12

Jul-12

Aug-12

Courts

70%

83%

91%

94%

95%

95%

96%

CPS

84%

97%

96%

97%

99%

99%

99%

HMP

87%

81%

100%

98%

100%

97%

100%

Police

92%

96%

97%

98%

98%

99%

99%

Tribunals

71%

84%

92%

94%

95%

95%

95%

November 2012

Prepared 4th February 2013