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Lack of Court Interpreters Causes Courtroom Drama

Posted on 02 Apr 2013

Lack of Court Interpreters Causes Courtroom Drama

In March last year, a story was published in the Daily Mail stating that foreign suspects are being released from police custody due to a lack of interpreters. This was as a result of various factors including budget cuts, a new contract for the provision of court interpreters, and unfavorable terms and conditions for individual interpreters, meaning less experienced interpreters or complete no-shows.

In February 2013, the Justice Select Committee published a report giving details of its findings regarding the awarding of one contract by the Ministry of Justice for all court interpreters.

The report states, "We are seriously concerned about the increase in ineffective trials as a result of non-attendance of interpreters, particularly in magistrates courts." It goes on to say. "We will monitor the quarterly statistics on ineffective trials for the remainder of the year to see whether this is an ongoing trend."

So what is the answer? To provide fair wages and contracts for qualified and experienced interpreters and in an ideal world, increase the number of interpreters available to the courts and the police.

A legal interpreter has to possess many attributes. They have to be intelligent, speak English and a foreign language fluently, be accurate and unbiased, have past experience in legal translation and interpreting work and always be the consummate professional.

It is a skill and a gift to be able to interpret accurately from a foreign language into English.
It takes time to qualify as an interpreter and to learn the etiquette required for legal interpretation within courtroom situations.

Unfavorable contracts will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of interpreter no-shows in court. It may also result in inexperienced interpreters providing inaccurate translations. This in itself may have drastic consequences with the possibility of foreign suspects being released, or in more extreme cases, an innocent person being held in custody due to a misinterpreted statement.

At City Legal Translations, we know the value of the professional translators and interpreters that we employ.  Our interpreting service uses legal interpreters and translators who are experienced, loyal, and who carry out legal interpretation on time, in a highly professional manner and without any fuss.

If you would like help with a legal translation or require a court interpreter then please contact us and we will be happy to provide one of our skilled interpreters to assist you.

T: 0800 0966 825 (UK only)


Please click on the link to read the report - Justice Committee - Sixth Report


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