Daily Telegraph: Translators for foreign criminals cost pounds 22m

Thursday, 30 October, 2008

POLICE forces are having to spend more than pounds 22 million a year on hiring interpreters for foreign criminals, new figures show.

The overall cost has risen by two thirds in the past five years, but for some individual forces the amount paid to translators has increased by 400 per cent.

David Ruffley , the shadow police minister, said the cost of translators was unacceptable and was putting a strain on police budgets.

He said: "These figures suggest we are importing more foreign criminals. As a result, police budgets are being hit and the sums involved could be better spent on more frontline policing of our streets.''

In total the costs have risen from pounds 13,580,599 in 2004 to pounds 22,178,040 this year - a rise of 63 per cent.

One of the forces to have seen a huge jump in costs is Cumbria. The cost of interpretation and translation rose in five years from pounds 17,460 to pounds 88,073 this year - an increase of more than 400 per cent.

In the Thames Valley police region, which includes towns near Heathrow Airport, the costs have now gone through the pounds 1 million barrier, reaching pounds 1,082,083.

In Greater Manchester, the cost of translators has almost doubled from pounds 546,148 in 2004 to pounds 956,461 this year.

Of the 51 forces in Britain, 43 responded to the Freedom of Information request from Mr Ruffley. The Tories have been pushing for a strengthened border police force to limit the numbers of criminals able to enter the country.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the NHS is spending millions on interpreters for patients who cannot speak English.

At least 200 trusts spent pounds 25 million on interpreters last year, figures released under Freedom of Information laws show. If this is representative of the 557 trusts in England and Wales, the total translation bill would be well in excess of pounds 50 million.