The tale of two countries
Police interpreting in the UK vs in the US
The aim of this research was to compare the quality of language services and of linguistic evidence obtained in UK police interviews and US police interrogations with suspects, witnesses and victims who speak little or no English and have to communicate via an interpreter. This is the first study of its kind based on substantial real-life data from both jurisdictions, which rely on different types of service provision. The data were annotated using NVivo 12 software and the methodology included a quantitative analysis of miscommunication instances that arise as a result of cross-linguistic or cross-cultural contrasts and a qualitative analysis of the interpreting standards and information details recorded in official transcripts. It was discovered that both countries exhibit some advantageous features in their language service provision. although both also have shortcomings that should be responded to and remedied. The US data reveal that the transcripts there are more detailed and more informative, and are produced bilingually and verbatim; this is not the case in the UK context. However, the use of non-professional interpreters in the US, unlike in the UK, where professional interpreters are employed, is shown to be highly problematic. The article concludes with a summary of empirical insights that can be used to improve evidence-gathering, access to justice in multilingual contexts, policy development and the training of law-enforcement and language professionals around the world.
- 2.Police communication and police interpreting: A brief literature review
- 3.Data and method
- 4.Data analysis: A comparative quality check
- 4.1Quality of transcripts
- 4.2Quality of interpreting
Published online: 07 April 2022
in press). The good, the bad and the ugly: Miscommunication in UK police interviews and US police interrogations. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.
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