Courts: Interpreters

Justice written question – answered on 11th December 2012.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) how many spot checks have been performed by his Department's procurement specialists on Capita's interpreter verification and vetting procedures; and what other steps he has put in place to ensure that those procedures are (a) sufficiently rigorous and (b) applied consistently;

(2) how many Capita interpreters are currently assessed on Tier (a) 1, (b) 2 and (c) 3; and how many Tier 3 interpreters have been deployed in courtrooms or tribunals since January 2012;

(3) what changes he has made to his Department's services procurement process as a result of the findings of the National Audit Office's report on the Ministry of Justice's language services contract published in September 2012.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

The Department has undertaken three sample audits. On each occasion a random sample of 30 interpreters has their qualifications and vetting documentation physically checked, in accordance with the tier to which the interpreter is currently assigned. This is in addition to the spot checking of management information. There will be a further sample audit in December.

The number of interpreters available in each tier is set out as follows, as at 29 October 2012. This was confirmed by Capita during its evidence to the Public Accounts Committee:

Tier Number of interpreters Number of languages covered
Tier l 677 1332
Tier 2 303 640
Tier 3 132 281

Tier 3 interpreters constitute 11.7% of the total. It should also be noted that the final decision on the use of a Tier 3 interpreter is for the judge hearing the particular case where it is being considered. Currently tier 3 interpreters are used in approximately 2% of cases.

The Ministry of Justice carries out due diligence on all commercial bodies with which it contracts. We have noted the NAO’s comments and we will look to learn from them in future exercises of this nature.

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