MORE than three quarters of a million pounds was spent by police in Suffolk on interpreters in the last five years, The Evening Star can reveal today. The county’s constabulary forked out a total of £849,617 on foreign language speakers to help quiz suspects and aid enquiries.
In 2003/04, the force spent £108,833 on interpreters, but by 2007/08, that figure had leapt to £196,664.
The figures, released following a Freedom of Information request, paint a picture of a county which is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. Among the most common nationalities to require translators was Polish, Portuguese and Kurdish, which is reflected in the large numbers who have settled in Suffolk in recent years. 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, Mandarin, Slovak, Lithuanian and Bulgarian. 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. Suffolk Constabulary subscribes to the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) in accordance with the agreement.
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. A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Suffolk Constabulary aims to provide local people with the highest quality policing service. “In order to ensure justice for victims of crime and fair treatment for suspects it is essential that we have the facility to communicate effectively with all members of the community.
“With an increase in the number of people whose first language is not English settling within the county our aim is to make sure that everyone we have contact with feels we have listened and communicated effectively with them.”
The cost of interpreters to Suffolk police:
2003/2004 – £108,833
2004/2005 – £145,233
2005/2006 – £175,721
2006/2007 – £223,166
2007/2008 – £196,664