Interpreters and Translators Service

Under the Home Office CLEP programme, every force is being encouraged to review their current approach to how language services are sourced. This has resulted in changes to the commercial agencies used, or in some cases police forces using agencies for the first time. There are a number of suppliers who provide language services through a managed booking service within the Criminal Justice Sector (CJS), Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

West Yorkshire Police has already changed the way it uses the services of interpreters (both face to face and telephone) and translators and has a managed service in place using a single provider.

From 1st April 2017, Language Empire now provides qualified and vetted interpreters and translators to West Yorkshire Police. All linguists booked through Language Empire for police assignments will be allocated work based on the tier (level) that they are assigned. This will ensure consistency and quality of services provided throughout the framework agreement. This requirement includes linguists who have previously provided their language services to the sector, are DPSI qualified (plus other specification requirements) and registered on professional linguist databases including the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI).

New standards of vetting were introduced by the National Police Chiefs Council languages lead in August 2016 and since that time, the national requirement is that ALL interpreters who provide face to face interpreting and transcription services must be vetted to NPPV Level 3. Interpreters must ensure that their vetting status is uprated to NPPV Level 3 and not wait until the expiry date of existing vetting. It is vital that interpreters take immediate action to ensure vetting applications and vetting declaration aspects are submitted as soon as contact is made to initiate the vetting process. Interpreters will be issued with photograph identification with their vetting status on it when they have completed the new vetting process. Professional Interpreters bodies, and suppliers will be able to provide further information to interpreters considering working in the police environment. Note: There has been a significant increase in the volume of vetting applications submitted to the National Vetting Unit to meet the national standard of NPPV Level 3, so the completion of the vetting process may take longer than normal. This is beyond the control of individual forces or service providers.

A review of the service identified some areas which interpreters need to be aware of to assist in ensuring continuous improvements which could result in a compromise to acceptable levels of quality.

Key points for interpreters:

  • Officers and staff should request the appropriate Tier of interpreter (normally Tier 1 for evidential assignments – interviews a statements) and this will be managed by the contracted provider.
  • Officers and staff should not leave interpreters by themselves with a suspect or victim or expose them to risk or compromise.
  • Statements should be provided at the time of the assignment and as part of the same booking, and work should not be undertaken at a later time.
  • Ask the officers or staff if you are unsure of anything to do with the assignment or need guidance or clarity.
  • Ask officers and staff to check written work for quality to ensure a clear understanding of requirements and ensure standards are maintained. This will avoid any potential re-work. It is not acceptable to have (as an example) lines left blank in the middle of the body of statements, etc.
  • Ask officers and staff to ensure jobs are Closed on the booking portal to verify the conclusion of the assignment to ensure efficient payment of interpreters and to comply with audit standards.
  • Ask officers and staff to sign your timesheet - it must match the times on the booking portal. This your record for payment which you will need to provide to the contracted supplier to ensure prompt payment in accordance with the suppliers terms and conditions.
  • Supplier terms and conditions vary but it is often 30 days following the last assignment from the previous month. Any enquiries about the above should be taken up directly with the supplier and forces will not intervene in contractual issues between providers and individual interpreters.