Are you a Level 6 interpreter, or are you studying towards your Level 6 qualification?

Well, there are some updates which ISL would like to share with you. Maybe you heard, perhaps not, but there is a new scheme which will cover a new way in which interpreters will provide interpreting service for Police. The system is called ‘PAIT’, which stands for ‘Police Approved Interpreter/Translator’.

Chief Constables across the UK have signed up to the PAIT scheme whereby interpreters and translators undertaking police assignments will be approved by Leicestershire Police. One master list will be held for the benefit of all forces. The scheme will be implemented sometime in 2021 and is currently in the consultation and development phase.

How does it work?

The Police come across many people who are not fluent in English, and they need an interpreter so they could take their account (victims, witnesses) or interview them as suspects. This is when the interpreter is requested so the communication could be established, and a true account could be taken. The interpreters used by police forces across the UK are booked by the Language Service Provider (LSP) via a formal contract.

Currently, we have a few agencies that cover different parts of the UK. When a police officer needs an interpreter, he/she contacts the agency with whom the Police force has a contract, and this agency will make contact directly with an interpreter. The interpreting rates vary across the regions in the UK. The current requirements are for the interpreter to hold DPSI – Diploma in Public Service Interpreting – the law element, DPI – Diploma in Police Interpreting or DCI – Diploma in Community Interpreting. They must also hold Non-Police Personnel Vetting at Level 3 (NPPV3), and they must have completed a number of hours of experience in public service interpreting before undertaking any police assignments.

As we are aware, some interpreters skipped through the sieve and were interpreting either without Level 6 qualification or simply not in the requested language. Many interpreters, especially in Europe, understand the language the neighbouring country speaks but cannot communicate fluently in that language. The examples of similar languages are the following: Slovak, Czech, Polish, Italian, Spanish, etc.

The consequences could be detrimental; situations occurred where a police officer requested an interpreter in a specific language and the agency sent an interpreter who claimed to speak in the requested language, but in fact, he/she was not speaking the specific language. The officer had no idea that the interpreter was not speaking the required language. This meant that the interview was conducted in a mix of two languages, and when it went to the Court, it was dismissed as not reliable because the defence said that the Police undertook the interview in a language the non-speaker was not speaking.

As a result of such mishaps, the National Police Chiefs Council has recommended a system of approving interpreters and translators that ensures every interpreter holds the required qualifications, vetting, CPDs and experience to undertake police assignments.

What does it mean for you?

In order to be approved for the PAIT scheme, you must be Level 6 DPSI, DPI or DCI qualified interpreter and NPPV3 vetted. In addition, you will be required to undertake regular CPD and prove that you did so over a set period of time. Finally, you must only interpret in the language you hold your qualification in!

CPD stands for “Continuous professional development” and it is vital for all interpreters and translators. Continuing professional development is essential because it ensures you continue to be competent in your profession. Nowadays, all linguists should work towards obtaining regular CPD. Please be aware that not all CPDs are accredited. This is a question you need to ask before purchasing any CPD events and courses to avoid a situation where you are left with CPD, which might not be accepted by a new framework that could possibly require this.

How to get involved?

As we can see, the market is moving toward favouring qualified interpreters who have been assessed for professional skills, demonstrate a high level of proficiency in at least two languages and have the appropriate training and experience to interpret with skill and accuracy. The Crown Commercial Service (the Authority) is seeking to establish a Framework Agreement for the provision of Language Services including Translation, Transcription and Ancillary Services, Telephone and Video Interpreting Services, Face to Face Interpreting Services and a Quality Assurance Service. This means that only qualified interpreters can undertake any future assignments and proof of accredited CPD certificates will be mandatory.

We still do have some interpreters who are interpreting without any qualifications, but they have plenty of experience, or they simply interpret in a rare language for which they are unable to sit an exam. The current market needs qualified interpreters.  The minimum qualification working for NHS, Social Services, Education and Local Government is Level 3 Community Interpreting. The minimum qualification working for HMRC, Police, Prisons and undertaking any legal interpreting is Level 6 (DPSI, DCI and DPI).