FOI Request: Court interpreters during COVID-19
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
3 August 2020
Dear Yelena McCafferty
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request – 200707010
Thank you for your request received on the 7 July 2020, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):
Please provide a copy of any instructions issued by the UK government/Ministry of Justice/Public Health England or other relevant authorities to be used by courts in England and Wales in relation to ensuring a 2 meter / 1+ meter distance for face-to-face interpreters working with defendants and witnesses in view of the COVID-19 situation. Please provide a copy of any relevant guidelines in line of Question 1 above in respect of any PPE interpreters are to be supplied with when working for HMCTS directly or via contracting agencies.
Your request has been handled under the FOIA.
I can confirm that MoJ hold the information you have requested. However, the information is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is reasonably accessible to you. MoJ have published detailed guidance about how we are assessing and managing the Covid 19 risk in our court and tribunal buildings, in accordance with Public Health England and Wale guidelines. The information can be accessed via the following link:
This also includes:
- Steps we have taken to keep buildings safe, secure and clean
- Details of the Organisational risk assessment
- Additional safety guidance for regular court users
- Visiting court custody suites during the coronavirus outbreak.
Section 21 is an absolute exemption, it is therefore not subject to the public interest test.
It is important that interpreters observe social distancing arrangements, or have in place appropriate mitigations. MoJ is working with key suppliers to understand particular controls that might be needed to allow interpreters to perform their roles effectively at the current time while in the court environment.
If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to request an internal review by responding in writing to one of the addresses below within two months of the date of this response.
Disclosure Team, Ministry of Justice
You do have the right to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint. However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning their investigation.
HMCTS Operations Directorate