By Ian Fraser, Head of Procurement & Support Services at Leicestershire Police
Leicestershire Police Force is leading on a National Police Framework for language services. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 detainees have a legal right to be represented by an interpreter during the evidential process. The new specification developed by the UK Police Service requires interpreters to be DPSI qualified to carry out any interpreting assignments.
By requesting this standard, police forces are assured to receive a level of professionalism and quality that provides support to the detainee and which also gives confidence to police forces during the criminal justice process.
Historically issues have occurred in the evidential process where interpreters that were used were sometimes unqualified and, in some cases, the criminal justice process has been halted or dismissed due to a lack of clarity and professionalism from using unqualified interpreters. This affected public confidence and provided reputational issues for police forces.
The new Police Language Services Framework, which will be live from 1 September 2020, is being developed through extensive pre-market engagement with suppliers, representative bodies within the language services industry and with the Chartered Institute of Linguistics. The suppliers who will co-ordinate future interpreting assignments have had it made very clear as to the qualification level required to undertake police interpreting assignments and how language services will be delivered in the future. That qualification level is DPSI. For all assignments: a minimum standard of a full Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) Law pathway, Diploma in Police Interpreting (DPI), Metropolitan Police Test (Met Test) or a degree in Interpreting with at least 50 hours of experience in interpreting in the criminal justice sector (all are classed as Level 6 Qualifications).
By ensuring that DPSI qualified interpreters are used within the UK police service, Leicestershire Police firmly believes that the evidential process will be recognised as a robust and professional process. There are a range of other commercial decisions being taken to promote and support the use of professionally qualified interpreters, including a significant increase in hourly rates for interpreters.
Numbers of interpreters are reducing in the public sector currently and it is hoped that new interpreters will be encouraged to work with the police service in the UK where the services they deliver are recognised financially and where the DPSI qualification is seen as the standard required to deliver these services.
Ian Fraser MCIPS
Head of Procurement & Support Services