HORSE`S MOUTHMore than just occasionally one hears the comment that for all the government`s spin that ” “the cuts” are necessary but front line services will be unaffected” those who are wielding the axe are basing their decisions on that infamous bottom line so beloved of accountants. It is an apt metaphor. It funnels hundreds of sometimes impenetrable sets of numbers into figures which are designed to satisfy pre set criteria of profitability or otherwise. By its very design the bottom line has two dimensions in a world of three. It has no depth and without depth there is limited understanding if indeed there is any at all. Such was the argument when Applied Language Solutions aka Capita plc was awarded the contract to provide interpreter services for HMCTS. I am not going over old ground and material already posted here.

Regular court users and others will know that all staff, court officers, J.P.s, defendants and their lawyers are required to be available for morning court at 9.30a.m. to prepare for proceedings which begin at 10.00 a.m. Interpreters, also, have been required to follow this protocol. The reason for their required pre proceedings presence will seem obvious to any person with even the merest modicum of common sense. Defendants whose English language skills are thought insufficient for the rigours of a court appearance and/or trial need to be interviewed in depth by their representative using the services of the court appointed interpreter prior to the 10.00 o`clock start time: not any more it seems, according to the latest so called cost saving of HMCTS.

Apparently those very bright chaps and chapesses who inhabit the portals at Petty France, London S.W.1 have, in their wisdom, decided that interpreters` assignments will be paid only from 10.00a.m. and thus 30 minutes per court appearance can be saved to that bottom line of costs. Never has the phrase “penny wise, pound foolish” been more apt. So instead of these individuals arriving at 9.30a.m. when their pay clock only begins to tick at 10.00a.m. they will time their appearance to 10.00a.m. They really can`t be blamed. Many, if not most of them, are working at reduced fee levels cf pre Capita with conditions that if they were strongly unionised would not be acceptable. As has been demonstrated many now working under this regime are not of the required standard and ought not to be in position. The central booking arrangement is in disarray. This is how Capita plc are making money from the contract and simultaneously helping the government`s bottom line to show savings. Any trial involving a language deficient defendant will not now begin (all other things being equal) at 10.00a.m. After allowing time for that discussion as mentioned above it is virtually a foregone conclusion that proceedings will be delayed that same 30 minutes. So the notional saving on the swing of interpreter costs will be many times more expensive on the roundabout of court costs.

This is not idle chat or unattributed hearsay. This is straight from the mouth of the horse.