Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Foreign criminals are costing the taxpayer millions of pounds in interpreters, with more than 250 dialects translated over the past three years.

From Akan to Zulu, officials have spent almost £60million to help those caught up in the legal system.

Most of the money is spent providing expert assistance to foreign-speaking suspects who need legal papers translated and then require an interpreter for their trial proceedings. Witnesses may also need interpreters.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show the service has cost £59.2million in three years.

Europeans frequently going through the courts include Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian.

There were also big spends on languages commonly spoken by families from Asia, such as Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu.

But there has also been spending on lesser-spoken dialects. There was £53 spent on providing interpreters for somebody who spoke Jula, a language from West Africa – and £86 on Zaghawa, a dialect spoken in the Sahel area of Africa.

The MoJ service also provided translation and interpretation for four different versions of Creole, at a cost of £42,000.

A total of £13,000 was spent on Bravanese, a language spoken in Somalia and £9,000 on Akan, spoken in southern Ghana.

There was £158,000 handed out to provide interpreters for Welsh speakers, £63 on Catalan, a Spanish regional dialect, and £10,500 on interpreters for Pidgin English.

Since 2020, the total cost for the translation bill to the MoJ has increased from £16million a year to £22million a year.

One of the biggest rises has been the cost for Albanian people, with its bill soaring more than 50 per cent, from £890,000 to £1.4million.

Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch UK, said: “A great deal of money seems to be going to nationals of countries with significant representation in the UK.

“Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Bangladesh and India, some of whom attract aid, are perfectly able to pay for their nationals. We should insist they do. The taxpayer is being taken for a ride. It has to stop.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Interpreters are vital so foreign criminals can be convicted and justice is delivered.

“Costs have increased because courts are hearing more cases since the pandemic.

“But we always seek best value for the taxpayer.”

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