Concerns over Ministry of Justice language services contract

17 June 2015

NRCPD has concerns about the Ministry of Justice second generation contract for language services after its failure to confirm it will make registration a requirement.

In response to a letter from Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, to Shailesh Vara MP, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid, Policy Manager Nick Peel said: "I am unable to specifically confirm the continuation of the requirement for NRCPD registration."

Mr Peel went on to say: "However, the Ministry remains fully committed to ensuring the standards of interpreting in supporting individuals during court proceedings, whilst providing a sustainable service that delivers value for money to the taxpayer."

Under the terms of the agreement on the arrangements for the attendance of interpreters in investigations and proceedings within the criminal justice system, communication and language professionals working with deaf and deafblind people should be registered with NRCPD. Where it is not possible to use a Registrant, professionals should meet standards at least equal to those required for registration.

Jim Edwards said: "The Ministry of Justice currently has the highest requirements of any Government department in terms of standards for interpretation and translation services. We do hope that doesn't change in favour of reducing costs.

"Because the role of communication and language professionals is not to 'support' deaf and deafblind people during court proceedings - they are essential to making sure justice is done. They provide a service not only to everyone involved, but to the system itself, so that service must be second to none.

"We will therefore seek clarification from the Secretary of State for Justice that he will honour the agreement that has helped to make sure deaf and deafblind people are treated equally before the law."

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