The cost of using translators in police work in Sussex topped £100,000 last year.
The total amount spent on interpreting for non-English speakers has risen by more than two and a half times since 2002. Most of the spending is on victims of crime. The figure does not include the cost of paying for translation for people who are in custody or translation in court. Sussex Police spent £102,881 last year on interpreting and translation, compared with £41,946 in 2002-03.
Councillor Steven Waight, who sits on Sussex Police Authority, said the burden has increased at a time when the force has been consistently underfunded compared with others elsewhere in the country.Coun Waight said: “Sussex Police is one of the most poorly funded forces in the country by the Government.If they actually gave us fair funding we would be able to deal with additional burdens like translation.”
Last month, the Government announced migrant workers would face an English language test before being allowed to work in Britain. Ministers have faced calls to provide extra money for public services feeling the strain of providing translators. A spokesman for Sussex Police Authority confirmed the body receives no extra money from the Government to pay for translation services. He added: “We are aware other local authorities have been looking at this and we will watch any developments in the area with interest.” One of the language barriers Sussex Police has been keenest on overcoming is Polish because of the number of people moving to Britain from Poland every year. Polish people accounted for 3,600 of the 13,400 migrant workers to arrive in Sussex last year.
Brighton and Hove has a Polish population of about 5,000, while Arun has about 4,000.Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne, Crawley and Bognor began recruiting for Polish-speaking police community support officers this year. Apart from Polish in Brighton and Hove, the main foreign languages include Albanian, Arabic and French. Along with the police, Whitehall and local government, about 3,000 quangos and Government-funded bodies across Britain spend public money on translation services.
Police forces across the country reportedly spent a total of £25 million on foreign language interpreters last year.