Four years after the highly controversial outsourcing of courtroom interpreting to a single contractor, the current monopoly service provider has finally met its key performance target, according to Ministry of Justice figures published today.
Between October and December 2015, Capita Translation and Interpreting completed 98% of requests for language services, up from 97% in the previous quarter.
The figure is the highest success rate since the contract started on 30 January 2012.
Complaints about the service remained steady - at 1% - in the last six months of 2015. In total, there were 2,100 complaints last year, compared to 2,900 in 2014 and 6,600 in 2013.
The most common complaint last year was ‘no interpreter available’, which accounted for nearly a third of all complaints.
The report states that ‘other interpreter issue’ represented 14% of all complaints last year – an increase from 3% in 2014.
The latest success rate will be welcome news for Capita, which has paid ‘service credits’ on 44 occasions since the beginning of the contract.
Responding to a question by shadow minister for human rights Andy Slaughter last week, justice minister Shailesh Vara said service credits can be imposed on Capita ‘in line with the terms of the contractual level of 98% success rate’.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said of the latest statistics: 'These figures show a 97% success rate in 2015 - the highest since the contract began. Complaints about the service were also at a record low in 2015, down 30% on the previous year.
'We are absolutely committed to improving performance and ensuring a high standard of language service for everyone who needs it in the criminal justice system.'
Earlier this month Capita told the Gazette it will be bidding for only one of four lots of a new contract scheduled to begin on 31 October.
In line with the government’s stated policy for public procurement, the successor contract has been broken into four lots: face-to-face interpretation (1); written translation and transcription (2); non-spoken language interpretation (3); and independent quality assurance (4).
Capita has confirmed it is bidding only for lot 2, written translation and transcription.
TransPerfect has confirmed it is bidding for lot 1, face-to-face interpretation.