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Please help re: written transcript of audio recorded police interview
Thread poster: Kati Bumbera

Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:00
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Jan 27, 2009

Hello...I have yet another newbie question about a police job I recently did. They just sent me a tape recording of the interview with the suspect and a written summary asking me to check if the written summary is a "true and accurate record of the English language used during the interview." They also warn me in the letter that it is not a full verbatim transcript, so things may have been taken out or edited etc. The transcript is entirely in English.

I'm a bit confused as to why I was sent this. On one hand I can sort of see the point, they had a transcript made of the interview and they want to know if I'm OK with it (I'm guessing in case it goes to court and I'm asked to give evidence?). On the other hand, I have several doubts and problems with it:

1. It is not, strictly speaking, an interpreting or even a translation task. (The whole thing is in English.) I assume I won't be paid for it if I do it.

2. Nobody told me previously that I'd be required to do this. It just appeared on my doorstep completely out of the blue. I am now walking around with criminal evidence in my bag, somewhat clueless as to how it ended up there and why. I don't even have a tape recorder to play the tape!

3. Since the text is not a 100% transcript of the audio recording, how am I supposed to judge if it's "true and accurate"? What shall I look for?

I've checked the PACE document one of you helpfully recommended last time, but the only thing I've found is "Any written record of an audibly recorded interview should be made in accordance with national guidelines approved by the Secretary of State." Hm, OK.

Has anybody ever done this? Is it OK if I decline? Any advice, please?


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Ulf Norlinger  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:00
English to Swedish
+ ...
Who is it? Jan 27, 2009

From where did you get this mail? From abroud?

Can't you communicate with the sender?

If you can't - and will not be paid for it - the sender is not serious enough, and you should ignore the inquire.

That's my opinion.


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Sherefedin MUSTAFA
Netherlands
Local time: 21:00
Member
English to Macedonian
+ ...
That's not your business Jan 27, 2009

Hi Kati,

I absolutely understand your concern which is the best expression of your professional approach.
The main rule of our work is very clear as we are supposed to (while interpreting or translating) exactly transmit in the language B what we hear/read in language A. Nothing more and nothing less than that.

In the past I regularly had to say “no” to direct clients when asked to summarize or recapitulate a document. The client has to select or mark the parts of a document to translate and it’s not my job to do that.

Regards,
Sherefedin


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Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:00
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just to clarify... Jan 27, 2009

I was the interpreter present when the police interviewed this person, that's why they sent it to me. Sorry if it wasn't clear from the original post.

If it is normal practice then I'd do it even though it is a pain in the backside, I'm just not entirely convinced that this is part of my job and if it is I'd like to know what the proper arrangement is and how I should go about it. Thanks.


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Gary D
Local time: 05:00
English
partial transcripts Jan 27, 2009

They only require certain parts for the court, Not all transcripts are in full. There may be parts in there which relate to another case, so they just give you the parts they can legally present to the court.

Some transcripts also contain incriminating evidence for the accused, which they may have later bargained on to leave out so they could convict more people.

I am sure if you have a contract you will be paid...


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 14:00
Spanish to English
Not with a ten-foot pole Jan 27, 2009

If they are asking you to indicate that a transcript that "... is not a full verbatim transcript, so things may have been taken out or edited etc" is fair or accurate, I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, regardless of whether it respresnts a translation, interpretation or one-language transcript.
This is far different from something clearly indicated as a mere summary that may lack essential information.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:00
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
I wouldn't go anywhere near this job. Jan 27, 2009

Sorry, it all sounds a bit dodgy to me. The mere fact it has been edited and things have been taken out of the recorded interview sounds very dangerous to me:-)



Liz Askew

[Edited at 2009-01-27 14:23 GMT]


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 20:00
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Discuss it over with your client ! Jan 27, 2009

Kati Bumbera wrote:

Hello...I have yet another newbie question about a police job I recently did. They just sent me a tape recording of the interview with the suspect and a written summary asking me to check if the written summary is a "true and accurate record of the English language used during the interview." They also warn me in the letter that it is not a full verbatim transcript, so things may have been taken out or edited etc. The transcript is entirely in English.

I'm a bit confused as to why I was sent this. On one hand I can sort of see the point, they had a transcript made of the interview and they want to know if I'm OK with it (I'm guessing in case it goes to court and I'm asked to give evidence?). On the other hand, I have several doubts and problems with it:

1. It is not, strictly speaking, an interpreting or even a translation task. (The whole thing is in English.) I assume I won't be paid for it if I do it.

2. Nobody told me previously that I'd be required to do this. It just appeared on my doorstep completely out of the blue. I am now walking around with criminal evidence in my bag, somewhat clueless as to how it ended up there and why. I don't even have a tape recorder to play the tape!

3. Since the text is not a 100% transcript of the audio recording, how am I supposed to judge if it's "true and accurate"? What shall I look for?

I've checked the PACE document one of you helpfully recommended last time, but the only thing I've found is "Any written record of an audibly recorded interview should be made in accordance with national guidelines approved by the Secretary of State." Hm, OK.

Has anybody ever done this? Is it OK if I decline? Any advice, please?


Hello,

I suppose you have an interface to communicate with, just contact him and tell him if you will get paid as this wasn't part of the deal and that's it !

Keep in mind that you are bound to do what you agreed to do no more no less ! Police or whoever is the contractor !

I'd advise you to talk with your contact as this will take time. I'd suggest also to rise all the doubts you may have regarding the accuracy and such issues. Keep in mind also that there is more than a way to do a job and to charge for it ! So it's all up to you. Keep also in mind that nobody is more knowledgeable about what the client wants you to do than the client himself...

Good luck !

Moh


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 20:00
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Not that Fishy ! Jan 27, 2009

liz askew wrote:

Sorry, it all sounds a bit dodgy to me. The mere fact it has been edited and things have been taken out of the recorded interview sounds very dangerous to me:-)



Liz Askew

[Edited at 2009-01-27 14:23 GMT]


Hello,

It's not fishy all what is needed is to clarify the situation with the client. And not to sign any statement saying that it's a whole. I'll advise her to keep a clear track of every request (clarified without ambiguity) by email or whatever so that she's protected in the event of any problem.

And keep in mind that it's not a sensitive data or else the police wouldn't be dumb enough to give it away to someone who isn't a full pledged agent and without protection...

Moh


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 20:00
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
I agree on that ! Jan 27, 2009

Sherefedin MUSTAFA wrote:

Hi Kati,

I absolutely understand your concern which is the best expression of your professional approach.
The main rule of our work is very clear as we are supposed to (while interpreting or translating) exactly transmit in the language B what we hear/read in language A. Nothing more and nothing less than that.

In the past I regularly had to say “no” to direct clients when asked to summarize or recapitulate a document. The client has to select or mark the parts of a document to translate and it’s not my job to do that.

Regards,
Sherefedin


Hi,

It really isn't her business but if she can get extra income out of it why not ?

Regards,

Moh


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Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:00
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Can I also refuse to give evidence? Jan 27, 2009

I understand all of you who are saying you wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, (my sentiments exactly) yet I'm wondering what if they do have some legitimate reason, for example if they want to use the transcript as evidence, then they need to know if it's a true representation of the original interview. And they are my words as I did the original interpretation. So from this point of view it does look like it's for my own protection, I'm essentially being asked to certify if they've represented my words truly and faithfully.

The thing is, in this case I'm being treated as a witness, which is where I sort of lose track of what's OK and what I can do and what I can refuse to do.

Sorry, it's just driving me mad but thanks for your comments.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:00
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
So, what is your role exactly in this case? Jan 27, 2009

Kati Bumbera wrote:

The thing is, in this case I'm being treated as a witness,


I am a bit confused here.
Are you saying you are involved with this criminal case (investigation) as a witness (and NOT as an independent interpreter)?

[Módosítva: 2009-01-27 15:59 GMT]


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Sherefedin MUSTAFA
Netherlands
Local time: 21:00
Member
English to Macedonian
+ ...
That's the right question Jan 27, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
Are you saying you are involved with this criminal case (investigation) as a witness (and NOT as an independent interpreter)?


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Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:00
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My question exactly! Jan 27, 2009

I am a bit confused here.
Are you saying you are involved with this criminal case (investigation) as a witness (and NOT as an independent interpreter)?


I was there as an interpreter when the police interviewed the suspect. That was, and is supposed to be, my only involvment.

But what I am being asked to do now is clearly not an interpreting assignment, instead it is related to the material that I produced as an interpreter, and that can be used as evidence if the case goes to court - where do you draw the line then? Technically I think I can be asked to go to court as a witness.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:00
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
So you are NOT a witness Jan 27, 2009

OK, so you are NOT treated as a witness, you just think you may be put into that role in the future (I doubt it, but that's just my opinion).

By the way, does this whole thing relate to your previous forum topic about statement taking? Could the "summary" they ask you to check be in fact the statement (or the text they would include on the statement form)?

In that other thread, in this posting there was a part that seems relevant to your current question:

http://www.proz.com/forum/interpreting/124985-statement_taking_when_interpreting_for_the_police.html#1032032

The police officer's role is not just limited to sitting in a room, they must ask all the questions and decide what goes into the statement - e.g. witnesses usually give you a lot of irrelevant details that do not have to go into the statement etc. And statement usually follows a certain pattern, it is the police officer who knows what should go there and in what sequence.


Is it possible that the transcript is "partial" for exactly these reasons?


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