To ask the Secretary of State for Justice
(1) what steps he has taken to ensure that translation services provided by Applied Language Solutions to courts are being delivered to a satisfactory standard;
(2) pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2012, Official Report, columns 953-4W, on translation service, what measures are contained in the action plan agreed between his Department and Applied Language Solutions (ALS); if he will assess the effectiveness of such measures in dealing with the problems set out in his Answer; and whether he has received complaints concerning (a) the quality of translation services and (b) the service provided by ALS since his answer;
(3) pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2012, Official Report, columns 189-91W, on translation services, how many of the key performance indicators listed in his Department's equality impact assessment are being met by Applied Language Solutions.
There have been an unacceptable number of difficulties in the first few weeks of this contract. In view of this, I have required immediate action to address the issues encountered. My officials receive regular management information, and attend regular meetings with Applied Language Solutions (ALS) to ensure an appropriate level of service to the justice sector. I and my ministerial colleagues are receiving regular reports and continue to monitor the situation.
ALS has taken the following steps to address the issues experienced in the initial period of operation of the framework:
An increase to the level of pay and travel allowances to interpreters. The introduction of block booking arrangements focused on problematic languages plans to directly recruit interpreters where there is clear ongoing demand.
Arranging additional interpreter assessment centres.
Recruitment of additional call handlers, booking administrators and linguist relationship managers.
Introduction of a new administrative team, purely with the function of issuing customer updates.
Secondment of a process management specialist, a management information specialist and an outbound calling team with the brief of further developing the supply of interpreters.
Improvements to the automated booking system.
We are starting to see improvements in performance but the contractor is still falling short of meeting a proportion of the key performance indicators.