Nearly four years after the outsourcing of courtroom interpreting to a single contractor, the service continues to fall short of its key performance target, according to the latest government figures.

Between July and September 2015, Capita Translation and Interpreting completed 97% of requests for language services, up from 96% in the previous quarter, but still short of the 98% requirement stated in the contract.

The Ministry of Justice said this was the highest success rate since the contract started on 30 January 2012.

Complaints about the service fell from 580 between April and June last year, to 430 between July and September. The report states that this represented a 1% complaint rate, the lowest since the contract commenced.

The most common cause of complaint was that the ‘interpreter was late’, accounting for 30% of all complaints, an increase of one percentage point from the previous quarter.

‘No interpreter available’ accounted for 21% of complaints, compared with 31% in the previous quarter.

The majority of complaints came from tribunals, which accounted for 61% of all complaints made in the third quarter. The availability of an interpreter accounted for 1% of the total number of ineffective trials in the Crown and magistrates’ courts.

A spokesperson for Capita TI said: ’The current published success rate (ie completed jobs) stands at 97% for the period July to September 2015, demonstrating that our standards for success rates are high and we will continue to strive to increase that further.’

The Ministry of Justice said the figures ’show the highest success rate since the contract began and the rate of complaints was at its lowest level at just one per cent’.

A spokesperson for the ministry added: ’We are absolutely committed to further improving performance to ensure a standard of language services that meets the needs of all those who use the service in the justice system.’  

The present contract will expire on 30 October. Competition for future contracts began in October last year.

When asked if Capita TI was hoping to carry on providing interpreter services in the courts and tribunals, its spokesperson said it would not be appropriate for the organisation to comment at this stage.

Since the ministry introduced a new interpreting contract in 2012, it says it has spent £38m less on language service fees.