Police interpreters cost �20,000 a month

INTERPRETERS for suspects, victims and witnesses have cost Suffolk police nearly �1.25million over the past eight years.

Colin Adwent

INTERPRETERS for suspects, victims and witnesses have cost Suffolk police nearly �1.25million over the past eight years.

Although the final figures for this financial year will be not be calculated until the end of the month it is likely spending on translators for around 40 languages will increase by around 18 per cent year-on-year, reflecting the county's growing multi-cultural society.

In the last 11 months �219,860 - an average of just over �19,900 per month - has been spent on interpreters according to Suffolk Constabulary's reply to a Freedom of Information request by the EADT.

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This compares to �196,664 for the whole of 2007-08 - an average of �16,388 per month.

However the previous year's total was �223,166.

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If this year's average continues during March the final figure for 2008-09 will be just short of �240,000, a rise of around �170,000 per year compared with eight years ago.

Up to the beginning of this month translators were called in on 808 occasions since April 1 last year.

The most common language used was Polish which accounted for 281 (34%) of the total.

Lithuanian was the next most prominent language with interpreters being called in 103 times (13%).

Among the other most-used languages were Russian and Portuguese, which were used 133 times between them, and Kurdish, used on 54 occasions.

Turkish, Slovak, and Romanian were also commonly used.

Wolof, a little-known language used in Senegal was interpreted twice, along with Tigrinya from Ethiopia. Tagalog, used in the Philippines, was interpreted once.

Police stress the outlay is to ensure they can do their best to pursue effective inquiries, while providing reassurance to victims and witnesses.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: "Suffolk Constabulary aims to provide local people with the highest quality policing service.

“We will always aim to make sure that everyone we have contact with feels we have listened and communicated effectively with them.

“The figures cover interpreter costs for victims and witnesses as well as offenders - the service is essential to ensure justice for victims of crime and fair treatment for suspects. The increase reflects the greater diversity of the communities we have in Suffolk."

Translators are paid a day rate 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. Foreign language speakers are also used to translate documents.

Cost of interpreters

The cost to Suffolk Police

2001/02 �68,382

2002/03 �97,225

2003/04 �108,833

2004/05 �145,233

2005/06 �175,721

2006/07 �222,843

2007/08 �196,664

2008 - Mar 2009 �219,860

Total �1,234,761

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