Nearly three years after the outsourcing of courtroom interpreting to a single contractor, the service is still falling short of its key performance target, according to the latest government figures.
Between July and September 2014, Capita Translation and Interpreting completed 94.8% of requests for language services – up from 94.1% in the previous quarter, but falling short of the 98% requirement stated in the contract.
The Ministry of Justice said this was the highest success rate since the contract started in 2012. Nearly half (47%) of the 660 complaints received during the quarter concerned the lack of an available interpreter.
The number of completed requests for language services fell for the second consecutive quarter, with 38,100 requests made under the contract, compared with 39,600 in the previous three months. The MoJ said the fall was due to fewer requests for language services from tribunal courts.
Courts minister Shailesh Vara said the interpreting contract had continued to deliver significant improvements since being introduced to tackle inefficiencies and inconsistencies.
‘We now have a quality service that is robust, sustainable and affordable, and we have spent £27m less in the first two years of the contract,’ Vara said.
The Law Society said it was ‘shocking’ that after nearly three years of a sole provider being in place, the service was still failing to reach its performance target.
‘A lack of available interpreters costs time and causes unnecessary adjournments, resulting in avoidable distress to victims and inconvenience to witnesses,’ the Society said.
Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter said it was shocking the government was unable to get a grip after three years into the contract.