Thursday 18 October 2012 by Catherine Baksi
The company contracted to provide court interpreters has failed to reach its performance target after six months, statistics released today reveal. The overall success rate for jobs completed by Applied Language Solutions between 30 January and 31 August was 89%.
The contract's performance target is 98%.
The Ministry of Justice statistical bulletin claims that: 'Presenting a single success figure hides a very marked trend over the seven months of increasing success rates for requests for language translation services.' The statistics show that the success rate for the service provided by Applied, now called Capita Translation and Interpreting, rose from 66.5% in February to 95.3% in August.
But giving evidence to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee earlier this week, the MoJ's head of procurement Ann Beasley accepted that, while performance had improved, 'it is not yet in a good enough place'.
During the first six months of the contract, Applied completed 72,043 requests for language services, covering 163 different languages. Of those 53% were for criminal cases, 39% for tribunals and 8% for civil or family cases.
Within that time there were 3,937 complaints relating to requests. The majority of complaints, 57%, came from tribunals; of those the most common complaint (26%), was that the interpreter was late. The data does not indicate how many complaints concerned an interpreter failing to attend, or the quality of the interpretation.
Polish, Romanian, Urdu and Lithuanian were the most frequently requested languages and accounted for more than a third of all requests.
For the 20 most requested languages, the MoJ briefing note says that the success rates for criminal court and prison jobs varied between 78 and 97%. The lowest success rates (below 80%) for criminal cases were for Lithuanian and Czech cases.
When the first set of performance data on the contract was published in May, the figures were provided to the MoJ by Applied and had not been independently checked. The Gazette has sought clarification from the MoJ as to whether that is the case with the latest figures. The Gazette has also asked the MoJ what financial penalties it has imposed on Applied for its failure to meet its performance targets after six months of the contract.
The figures provided do not include the number of cases where courts did not use Applied but went directly to interpreters, under provisions allowed by the MoJ following the contract's initial problems.