Cumbria's top judge has demanded an explanation after a case at Carlisle Crown Court had to be put off for the second time because there was no interpreter available.

A man of Pakistani origin – who speaks Urdu and only a little English – was due to be sentenced yesterday on charges involving a knife and threats to his partner.

But the hearing had to be adjourned after it emerged that, though an interpreter had been booked to help Arjun Amar from Kendal understand what was going on, none turned up. It was the second time the case has had to be adjourned.

A previous hearing could not go ahead for exactly the same reason.

Judge Paul Batty QC, Carlisle’s Honorary Recorder, described the situation as “unacceptable” and ordered a written report from the company which should have provided the interpreter – Capita Translation Services.

“I simply do not understand how this situation has arisen,” he said. “It certainly should not have done.”

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I would just like to personally salute all the Interpreters who are not accepting HMCTS & Police bookings that are requested by Capita.

I am a Kurdish (Sorani) Interpreter and recently I have been offered loads of bookings by Capita to attend HMCourt & Police bookings – which I have declined – and as a result, the Courts & Police have had no other choice but to use the NRPSI to offer me jobs, which I accept. Why not? The rates the NRPSI pay is what we deserve!

So basically if all the Kurdish (Sorani), and other language, Interpreters decline bookings requested by Capita, the Courts/Police will have to use the NRPSI to offer us bookings and pay us the rates we deserve, from all the hard work we have done to achieve the interpreting qualifications. Furthermore, due to Capita downgrading most Tier 2 interpreters, to Tier 3, they won’t be able to take our jobs – only in very small circumstances when the Judge approves the use of a Tier 3 interpreter; but like I said, this happens rarely.

As I said, I salute all the Interpreters who are boycotting Capita, and for you to keep on doing it because as you can see, it is already happening and it’s working, we just need more Interpreters on board to make this a reality everyday, so we get bookings directly via the NRPSI - which I am, thankfuly, getting more regularly.

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The cost to taxpayers of foreign language translators in the courts has almost doubled in a year to more than £15million.

The Courts and Tribunal Service, run by the Ministry of Justice, spent £15,537,821 on interpreters last year compared with £7,940,128 in 2012.

But the total is likely to be higher as the figures relate to a Government outsourcing contract with Capita and do not include bookings made elsewhere.

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, responding to a Parliamentary query, said the increased outlay was partly due to “changes made to the contract” in May 2013 and an estimated 20 per cent increase in the number of interpreters needed at court hearings.

Mr Vara said: “The number of bookings made off-contract has substantially decreased since the start of 2012 with those bookings moving on to the Capita contract.”

He insisted that major financial savings had been made under the changes.

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A police and crime commissioner has described the translation services used in the legal system as "crap".

Paddy Tipping said the service used by Nottinghamshire Police no longer provided a translator in person.

He added that it was often impossible to get a service within a "sensible timeframe" and that the courts system was also badly affected.

LanguageLine and Capita said they were meeting targets and clients were satisfied with their service.

Mr Tipping was speaking at a conference on Monday and reiterated the comment when questioned afterwards.

'Impossible' service

He claimed interpreters were "fed up" with not being paid properly, the courts were facing problems with a national contract and even the government was getting "irritated".

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MORE than one million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on foreign language interpreters in Dorset by police and the CPS in just five years.

From defendants, prosecution witnesses to victim support, the cost of translation in the county can now be revealed by the Echo.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that more than half of this huge amount was spent in between 2008 and 2011.

The Echo has been told that high but declining costs fall in line with the changes in the way interpreters are hired by police and the CPS as well as the expansion of the European Union and waves of immigration into the county, in those years.

Dorset Police’s highest spend in the past five years was £224,696.35 in 2009/10, while the CPS spent the most in 2010/11 – at £16,987.

Translation costs have declined in the past two years, totalling £76,290.28 for Dorset Police in 2013/14 so far and just £9,741 by the CPS in 2012/13.

The most requested interpreters to help defendants, witnesses and victims were for Polish translation.

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