Interpreting: courting disaster
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Justice made a massive cock-up when it changed the method by which courts in England and Wales procured interpreters. It handed a £ 43 mn. contract for court interpreting services to an outfit called Applied Language Solutions (ALS), an outfit totally incapable of and unprepared for handling such a large contract.
Once it had laid its hands on the court interpreting contract, ALS sought to change the terms and conditions under which interpreters are engaged, introducing a savage pay and expenses cut, resulting in a boycott of ALS which is still continuing as many interpreters are not prepared to do a professional job of work for a rate of pay that now works out at less than the minimum wage once expenses have been deducted.
To attempt to make good the shortfall, ALS resorted to hiring unqualified translators, including a rabbit called Jajo.
Earlier this week the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee examined the MoJ/ALS fiasco (footage here). The senior civil servants in charge of the project did not put in a good performance. To call them incompetent would be too praiseworthy.
Just as the Select Committee were settling in to their deliberations, the latest edition of Private Eye had also picked up the ALS story.
As the Eye piece points out, ALS has since been acquired by Capita and rebranded Capita Translation and Interpreting.
Private Eye spells Capita with an additional ‘r’. Say no more.