Hundreds of court cases requiring an interpreter were disrupted in the first quarter as outsourcer Capita continued to fall short of its required performance target.

The statistics for the first three months of 2014 show a rise in the number of requests fulfilled, although the figure remains well below its contractual commitment of 98%.

The number of requests for an interpreter rose to 45,100 – the highest since the contract began in January 2012.

The percentage of requests completed rose by 4% from the last quarter of 2013 - to 94.5% - equal to the previous peak in the third quarter of 2012.

But this means there were still 2,480 cases disrupted due to the lack of an interpreter. At no point since the contract began has Capita reached the 98% performance target.

The data shows the overall number of complaints about the service have fallen to the lowest number since the contract began.

There were 1,000 (2.2% of cases) complaints, down by 21% from the 1,200 in the last three months of 2013 and a 54% fall compared to the 2,100 complaints made in the first quarter of 2013.

There were 400 (45% of complaints) complaints due to no interpreter being available – down from 1,200 in the same period of 2013.

But the figures show a marked rise in the number of cases where an interpreter arrived late – 300 complaints, compared to 200 in the first quarter of 2013.

Off-contract bookings, where courts did not use Capita interpreters but contacted them privately, dropped to 700, compared to 900 in the last three months of 2013.

A Capita spokesperson said: ‘The number of completed requests continues to increase quarter on quarter with fulfilment rates continuing to track to the target level of service required. A continuous programme of improvements are being implemented as we work together with stakeholders and is showing a positive outcome in terms of quality and service levels, notably, the rate of complaints for this quarter is lower than the same period in 2013.

‘We expect future figures to demonstrate an improvement to fulfilment rates and a continued reduction in complaints as well as continually delivering significant savings to the Ministry of Justice.

‘Capita Translation & Interpreting requires interpreters to sign up to a code of conduct policy which stipulates arrival on time. Failure to adhere to the code of conduct could result in interpreters being removed from our register.’