Interpretation costs by Norfolk police have more than doubled to £360,000 in the last five years it has emerged. Rises in immigration numbers for the county have led to extra support services needed, the Evening News can today reveal.
In 2002 to 2003 Norfolk Constabulary spent £152,339 on translation and interpreter fees and interpreter expenses. But figures released following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request shows the cost has since risen to £360,395 between 2006 and 2007 – with the figures for 2007 and 2008 expected to show a further rise of £363,675.
Norfolk’s chief constable Ian McPherson, said: “Immigrants haven’t brought anymore crime than the indigenous people but they do bring in extra complications in language and translation services. “Immigration doesn’t bring crime, increases in population bring crime. There are expected to be 72,000 extra houses in the area, that’s extra population.”
The figures paint a picture of a county which is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse and there are now believed to be as many as 88 languages spoken in the county, including Portuguese, Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Kurdish-Sorani, Turkish, Mandarin, Hungarian, Latvian, Swahili, Arabic and Pushtu.
Influxes from workers from Eastern European communities have changed the ethnic mix of the city and county. But Mr McPherson insisted that this has not affected crime figures in the region.
He said: “They are no more criminal than any other group. There are parts of the county in terms of agriculture that would struggle to survive without those immigrants. Part of our role is to support those employers.”
Norfolk Constabulary, along with 32 other statutory agencies in the county, including the probation service and Norfolk County Council, use INTRAN – a multi-agency partnership providing language services in the Eastern region.
INTRAN works in partnership with district councils, public agencies and smaller voluntary organisations to provide interpretation and translation services to the general public. Last year the INTRAN partnership was asked for information in 58 of the 88 languages spoken in the county. A spokeswoman from Norfolk County Council said it is a legal requirement to provide translation services under the Race Relations Act 2000.
Although the figures are growing, in comparison to our sister county, Suffolk, their police force spent £849,617 on foreign language speakers last year. Of that figure £196,664 was on interpreters. And translation fees are not the only rising cost for the police.
In 2006 to 2007 the Constabulary spent £1,110,411 on fuel which then rose to £1,129,866 last year with the projection for 2008 to 2009 being £1,514,000.