A new and critical report from the Danish national auditor Rigsrevisionen has drawn attention to serious deficiencies among interpreters employed by a number of government bodies, including the police and the health sector.

Danish police forces are obliged to use interpreters chosen from an approved list, but the report shows the majority of them don’t satisfy the criteria laid down by the Justice Ministry.

Among other things, the ministry stipulates that interpreters ought to have a long academic education in linguistics or speak the language as their mother tongue – as well as being able to speak and write Danish fluently.

In practice, the burden of evaluating an interpreter’s capabilities falls on the ordinary police officer who is unable to speak the language in question.

Data in the report shows that in the health sector, almost every fourth employee has experienced a situation in which a course of treatment or examination has been postponed or delayed because of either a lack of or inadequate interpreters.

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