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Thread poster: Alison Jenner
"unqualified interpreters" in UK courts

Alison Jenner
Switzerland
Local time: 22:32
French to English
+ ...
Aug 29, 2006

'Unqualified interpreters' cause chaos in courts

Almost a third of police forces are using "unqualified" interpreters to conduct crucial interviews with foreign suspects.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/27/nimmi127.xml


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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 22:32
English
Scary, but... Aug 29, 2006

... how many registered interpreters also cause problems? Or what do you do if it is a language that is really uncommon? Or how much does the interpreter's or 'foriegner's' understanding of another legal system affect the interpretation in terms of the UK court requirements?

Scary


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:32
very common problem in ireland Aug 30, 2006

... often, the interpreter is person in the subject's circle of friends who speaks the best English. With the recent growth of Baltic State immigrants to Ireland, it is a growing concern.

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Sunshine_UK
Local time: 21:32
English to French
Ridiculous! / DPSI / Asylum and Immigration Tribunals Aug 30, 2006


Alison Jenner wrote:

'Unqualified interpreters' cause chaos in courts

Almost a third of police forces are using "unqualified" interpreters to conduct crucial interviews with foreign suspects.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/27/nimmi127.xml





Dear All,

I would like to share some negative experience of a friend of mine who has recently been so much discouraged by something that is totally and utterly unacceptable and the situation in detail is explained below. Please take your time and don’t hesitate to make any comments that may be helpful and contribute to the progress of democracy in our country.

After a phone call to the AIT Interpreters Panel in Loughborough (As for some strange reason, for those who does not know; Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in the United Kingdom have their own Interpreters Panel which assesses (?) and recruits (?) interpreters from all languages independent from NRPSI), my friend was told that they were not recruiting any interpreters for the moment as they already have 1400 interpreters all well-located all across the UK in their system. (A system which is basically created by registering people to their computer data base after a ONE WAY assessment which in my personal view is unbelievably disturbing and unfair for those who may somehow get abused by the unprofessional approach of them. That could be a young genuine asylum seeker who was raped back in her home country or a young man who was tortured back in his home country before arriving to the UK looking for justice that they couldn’t find in the places they come from.

At this point I find it useful to explain further as to how a “ONE WAY” assessment system of Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in the United Kingdom which was earlier mentioned above works. According to the nature of this profession, one would “normally” expect an interpreter’s assessment to be done in language pairs and when I say pairs, that purely means “two” but not “one”. Shockingly the Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in most of the cases make this assessment in one language, and not surprisingly that is, of course English ladies and gentleman!

This is the 21st century and we are in a country that prides itself in human rights and democracy but is this really how we care about our democracy? Should we talk about a fair trial for all, then are we not obliged to offer this without any language barriers that may block the justice system for those who may genuinely need it? I will leave it to discussion for now.

Our story which some people may have been aware of for many years and kept quiet about gets even funnier here. As a response to my friend’s question whether a DPSI Qualified interpreter would be accepted to the panel at all, he was told that unless he is a FULL member of the NRPSI, they are not able to offer any work either. Having mentioned that, he was then told even being a “FULL” member of the NRPSI was not a 100% guarantee that he would be allowed to join the panel due to the fact that they already had adequate service suppliers (quantity or quality sir?).

How ridiculous this can be when someone starts new in the business and so much put off by this absolute nonsense? In addition to that, if most of the work (well at least for those who consider themselves as “full-time” interpreters in London area) is given by AIT, so how on earth would you expect them to make a living and how on earth can the next generations be tempted to train themselves for the DPSI, a diploma which in the end gives them not what they expect from it and pay for.

I would really appreciate your comments on all these issues that I find necessary to raise here today.

Thank you very much for reading.


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saloua jennings
English to Arabic
agencies!!! Sep 1, 2006

Every time I read something like this I become full with a massive sense of injustice, frustration and anger, because those of us trying to make a living as independent court/legal interpreters in the UK have to contend with the growing monopoly of agencies who take huge slices of profits (up to 65%) and really don't vet the interpreters they are sending out.

I work for a few agencies, none of who have ever given me any form of assessment in the languages I claim to work with, or asked for proof of my NRPSI status. Worst, they regularly invite me to cover work - often in Crown Court - in languages with which I have repeatedly told them I am not NRPSI registered .

Many courts in the country rely solely on agencies - I was even told by one listing officer that they do not use the National Register at all but an agency as they offer 'better quality' - guess what, it was the same agency who continually try and cajole me into working out of my language pair!

Yes, I can understand that for listing officers it is easier to call just one number and get all of interpreters they need, but i also think more stringent regulations should be inforce to stop 'bad' interpreters getting into the workplace and causing a bad name for us all!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:32
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I think there is some minsunderstanding here Sep 4, 2006


Sunshine_UK wrote:

After a phone call to the AIT Interpreters Panel in Loughborough (As for some strange reason, for those who does not know; Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in the United Kingdom have their own Interpreters Panel which assesses (?) and recruits (?) interpreters from all languages independent from NRPSI), my friend was told that they were not recruiting any interpreters for the moment as they already have 1400 interpreters all well-located all across the UK in their system. (A system which is basically created by registering people to their computer data base after a ONE WAY assessment which in my personal view is unbelievably disturbing and unfair for those who may somehow get abused by the unprofessional approach of them.
.................
At this point I find it useful to explain further as to how a “ONE WAY” assessment system of Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in the United Kingdom which was earlier mentioned above works. According to the nature of this profession, one would “normally” expect an interpreter’s assessment to be done in language pairs and when I say pairs, that purely means “two” but not “one”. Shockingly the Asylum and Immigration Tribunals in most of the cases make this assessment in one language, and not surprisingly that is, of course English ladies and gentleman!
...................
Our story which some people may have been aware of for many years and kept quiet about gets even funnier here. As a response to my friend’s question whether a DPSI Qualified interpreter would be accepted to the panel at all, he was told that unless he is a FULL member of the NRPSI, they are not able to offer any work either. Having mentioned that, he was then told even being a “FULL” member of the NRPSI was not a 100% guarantee that he would be allowed to join the panel due to the fact that they already had adequate service suppliers (quantity or quality sir?).

How ridiculous this can be when someone starts new in the business and so much put off by this absolute nonsense? In addition to that, if most of the work (well at least for those who consider themselves as “full-time” interpreters in London area) is given by AIT, so how on earth would you expect them to make a living and how on earth can the next generations be tempted to train themselves for the DPSI, a diploma which in the end gives them not what they expect from it and pay for.

I would really appreciate your comments on all these issues that I find necessary to raise here today.


Here is my comment:

First of all, there is no such thing as "AIT Interpreters Panel at Loughborough.... assessing and recruiting interpreters".
There is an AIT Support Centre at Loughborough, where they keep the list of interpreters registered by the AIT, e.i. a panel of interpreters. The panel of interpreters have nothing to do with recruitment. This is simply the list of interpreters the AIT use, (forgive the repetition) and the Loughborough centre is an administrative centre for the AIT.

Recruitment with the AIT when I signed on (admittedly, nearly 6 years ago, but I don't think it would have changed much) went in phases. The application was veted, then if you passed, you were invited for a brief assessment, and after that sent on a course, which I think lasted for four days, and you were given other materials to study as well.
Some time after that there was an interview in front of a panel, (yes, a panel, but not THE Interpreters Panel) out of those there were 2 or 3 English speakers, plus one speaker of the foreign language interacting with you and another person speaking both languages sitting by the side who was simply making notes on your performance to aid their assessment. I don't remember the details very much, but a number of different task had to be performed.

The AIT used the Institute of Linguists to organise and hold these courses and the assessment. I think the whole process was fairly thorough, conscientiously done and not for the faint-hearted.

Of course, if they are desperate to have any kind of interpreter at all in a rare language, they might have to compromise.

In some languages there is a lot of work from them, in others very little. When they say they have adequate service suppliers, I tend to believe that they have. The service has been going on for years, and they had plenty of opportunity to recruit, train and assess interpreters.

They are also likely to have new recruitment from time-to- time, and you will have to catch that, as other people did it in the past.

On the other hand, the NRPSI membership doesn't depend on supply and/or demand. That is an accreditation and database system. If you passed all requirements, exams, etc. paid your membership fee, you become a member, and you might be called to attend all sorts of assignments, or rarely or might not, if there are hundreds of interpreters in your language pair(s) and speciality.

As for agencies: no comment, as they say in court.

It is a pity, that a lot of court and police organisation rely on agencies in the manner described by Saloua.

[Edited at 2006-09-04 15:54]

[Edited at 2006-09-05 13:40]


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Alicja Wota
Local time: 21:32
English to Polish
I don't think Jan 15, 2009

the main issue here is whether the AIT interpreting body is called the AIT Interpreters Panel or AIT Support Centre. It is the fact that courts and tribunals employ unqualified interpreters and turn down fully qualified ones that is the most worrying.
Has anybody got any idea how to tackle this problem?


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:32
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
It does matter! Jan 15, 2009


Alicja Wota wrote:

I don't think the main issue here is whether the AIT interpreting body is called the AIT Interpreters Panel or AIT Support Centre. It is the fact that courts and tribunals employ unqualified interpreters and turn down fully qualified ones that is the most worrying.
Has anybody got any idea how to tackle this problem?


As long as there is confusion, and even interpreters are not sure about their status, there is no hope of tackling the problem. Why do you expect the court administrators to now better?

If you are a qualified interpreter, wanting to work at courts and tribunals, you ought to know the system and be familiar with the various official bodies providing access to court/tribunal interpreting.

Once you are sure what criteria your qualification(s) fulfil, what are the official bodies expected to oversee these matters and where you belong, you can start complaining about agencies sending unqualified interpreters to these establishments.


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John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Still going on Jan 19, 2009

Disappointing to see that the original article is from 2006, but the problem seems to be getting worse, with various police forces contracting out their language services depts to private agencies. I was recently called by an agency I have done some commercial interpreting work for, to interpret at a police station. I refused on principle. If all of us do that, public sector users will have to return to using the DPSI.

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Agnieszka Moczynska  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:32
English to Polish
+ ...
Outsourcing plans by Police Forces in UK Jan 29, 2009

If you are a qualified, NRPSI registered, UK based interpreter and you want to protect our profession and campaign for our skills and qualifications to be recognised, please send me a message via ProZ.

Kind regards

Agnieszka Moczynska MA(hons) MCIL DPSI
Polish translator & interpreter


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