Ministry of Justice Called “Shambolic”

MPs called the government department “shambolic” because of the contract for court language services in England and Wales.

The Commons justice committee said that the Ministry of Justice had no fears that the things would change with this contract and the standards would fall.

According to ministers the initial problems were followed by “dramatic improvements”. This contract began functioning in early 2012.

As a result all the translation and interpreter services for victims, witnesses and defendants instantly ran into difficulties.

The answer of the committee is that the Ministry of Justice was not well prepared on the complexity of court interpreting and translation work.

“The Ministry of Justice’s handling of the outsourcing of court interpreting services has been nothing short of shambolic,” committee chairman Sir Alan Beith said.

This happened because the MoJ did not have an objective vision on the needs of courts and did not listen to the warnings of the professionals who wanted to help them provide quality interpreting services.

Now MoJ is about to launch a far-reaching competitive process for probation services.

The government department had to listen to the warnings about the complexity of this kind of work before it decided to sign the five-year deal with Applied Language Solutions.

MPs believe the department may have instructed court staff not to co-operate with its inquiry because it was contemptuous of Parliament.

Helen Grant said that at the start of the contract there had been “significant” issues but later, “swift and robust action” had led to “dramatic improvements”.

She also said: “The changes we have made have led to major savings for taxpayers, totalling £15m in the first year, and we continue to monitor the contract on a daily basis and demand continuing progress.”

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