Police spend thousands on interpreters

POLICE in Suffolk had to spend nearly £220,000 on interpreters last year, it emerged today.Foreign language speakers, costing £217,747, had to be called in 583 times between January 1 and December 31 last year to help quiz suspects and aid inquiries.

By Colin Adwent

POLICE in Suffolk had to spend nearly £220,000 on interpreters last year, it emerged today.

Foreign language speakers, costing £217,747, had to be called in 583 times between January 1 and December 31 last year to help quiz suspects and aid inquiries.

The figures reflect the growth of a multicultural society in Suffolk and were released in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star.

The largest nationality to require linguists was the Polish for whom interpreters were called 133 times, accounting for nearly 23 per cent of the total calls.

It also emphasises the large contingent of Polish nationals now living and working in Suffolk, with 5,000 in the greater Ipswich area alone.

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Portuguese translators accounted for the next largest contingent, being called in on 70 occasions, with Kurdish linguists used 60 times.

Among the other language experts who were required to help explain Britain's legal system and speak up for people under arrest were those who spoke Albanian, Bengali, Vietnamese, Farsi (Iranian), Mandarin, Slovak, Lithuanian and Bulgarian.

Sign language experts were also called in five times.

Translators are paid a day rate from 8am to 8pm of £33.83 per hour, a night rate from 8pm to 8am or Saturday rate of £50.75 per hour and a Sunday/bank holiday rate of £67.66 per hour.

Interpreters are paid rates agreed nationally by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Anna Woolnough, spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “Effective communication with the public is key to Suffolk Constabulary, both to prevent and to help solve crime.

“As the number of ethnic groups settling within the county increases it is important that we have the facility to communicate effectively with each of them - to give crime reduction advice, to take witness statements and where appropriate to ensure that offenders understand the criminal justice process that they have become involved in.”

Suffolk Constabulary subscribes to the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) in accordance with the agreement.

The force does not vet interpreters, but those in the NRPSI or CACDP (Communications with people with hearing difficulties) have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check or subjected to police vetting.

Foreign language speakers are also called in to translate documents. Pay ranges from £1.92 for 50 words for non-technical work to £8.17 for technical work.

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