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In response to the article “Better Access in Court or Not?”

2 May 2012

(British Deaf News, May 2012, p17)

Whilst it is true ALS have won the new Ministry of Justice Contract to provide interpreting services to all courts, tribunal services and some police forces, it is not true that Deaf people are receiving a worse interpreting service than before. 

Previously there was no co-ordinated service within Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Services (HMCTS) and there are no statistics available regarding how successful the courts were in booking interpreters for Deaf people.

Now that Clarion Interpreting are the preferred suppliers to ALS for all Deaf interpreting, lipspeaking, etc. we now have statistics that show that of the 977 booking requests (Feb-May) a total of 94% were filled by Clarion: this is an excellent success rate for a contract that is still in its infancy especially when you consider that many are very short notice requests.

Clarion are committed to providing the best quality services for Deaf people who need an interpreter in the legal system.  We aim to have an even higher success rate over the next three months and also to ensure that the interpreters we are using are specially trained to work in Courts, Tribunals and for the Police.  Never before has there been an opportunity to ensure that properly trained interpreters will be used in court, especially within the criminal justice departments.

Our own in-house booking co-ordinators also provide an ‘out of hours’ emergency response service for police forces ensuring that we are able to get experienced interpreters to emergency situations as quickly as possible.  Over 50% of the counties police forces are covered by our out of hours service and an average of 10 police bookings are organised at weekends – and we are also able to extend this service to hospital/medical emergency bookings.

To reinforce Clarion’s vision of “every deaf person getting the best interpreting and communication services in the right place, at the right time, throughout life”, I have just been appointed Head of Interpreting with a special remit for delivering the MOJ Contract.  I have over 20 years of experience of working as a BSL Interpreter, legal interpreting agency manager and legal interpreting trainer.  I decided to join Clarion because I want to ensure that Deaf people continue to receive the very best quality services.

Some readers may have heard about interpreters boycotting/striking because of the new contract.  Whilst it is true that there have been many delays and cancellations in other languages, this is simply not the case for Deaf people.  There have also been complaints about unqualified and unregistered BSL interpreters in court.  These interpreters are NOT provided by Clarion: I can assure you that Clarion will NEVER use any unqualified or unregistered interpreters for legal work.  If you want to be sure that you have a qualified interpreter, make sure that you ask to see their yellow badge.

Finally, if you do have any comment or complaint about an interpreter in court or at the police station, please contact me at Clarion and I will investigate your complaint.

Gloria Ogborn
Head of Interpreting