Complex collaborations: Interpreting and translating for the UK police
University of East Anglia
Interpreting and translation are increasingly provided in the public sector via large-scale outsourced framework
contracts (Moorkens 2017). In the UK, one of the largest recent framework agreements
for interpreting and translation was introduced between 2016 and 2017 in critical contexts for justice, including the Home Office,
the Ministry of Justice and the police. These agreements involve new types of collaboration between new partners and agents in the
delivery of interpreting and translation, who each have different aims, expectations, standards and working methods. This
contribution examines these emerging complex collaborations, and is the result of a rare type of complex collaboration between
academic researchers, framework contract-holders and managers, interpreters and translators, language service providers,
professional associations, and users of translation and interpreting services, within the Transnational Organised Crime and
Translation (TOCAT) project.
The article reports on original research conducted during the TOCAT project, and outlines and evaluates some
novel, complex and ethically challenging ‘translaborations’ in police settings. The collaborations discussed are complex because
of the range of parties and actors involved and because of the challenging content and settings in which the police rely on
interpreting and translation. ‘Translaboration’ is used here to encompass multiple evolving collaborations between different
providers and users of interpreting and translation, policy makers, trainers and researchers. Important questions of translation
quality and ethics in the management of large-scale framework contexts for public service delivery are raised.
Interpreting and translation are increasingly provided via large-scale outsourced framework contracts (Moorkens 2017), mostly as a result of the global spread of competition laws (also known as anti-trust or anti-monopoly laws), particularly since the 1990s (Büthe and Minhas 2015). This shift in how interpreting and translation are procured has resulted in new types of collaboration with new partners and agents, who may have no prior experience of the language services sector, and who have different aims, expectations, standards and working methods. These new collaborators are diverse, ranging from private equity firms attracted by the potential for profit, to established multinational outsourced service providers whose experience lies in unrelated sectors, such as cleaning, information technology or security. Contract-holders must usually manage communication to and from dozens of languages, or be able to do so for any of the world’s language pairs that might be requested. They may be required to supply specialist linguists at short notice to work across a wide range of specialist fields and settings, and the agreements need to be profitable within a relatively short period, typically two to five years (Wills 2000; Grossman and Helpman 2005).
eds.2017Collaborative Translation from the Renaissance to the Digital Age. London: Bloomsbury.
2005 “Training Interpreters to Work in the Public Services.” In Training for the New Millennium: Pedagogies for Translation and Interpreting, edited by Martha Tennent, 153–173. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Corsellis, Ann, Amanda Clement, and Yolanda Vanden Bosch
2011 “Training for Members of the Legal Services Working through Legal Interpreters and Translators.” In Building Mutual Trust: A Framework Project for Implementing EU Common Standards in Legal Interpreting and Translation, edited by Brooke Townsley, 315–350. London: Middlesex University.
Coulthard, Malcolm, and Alison Johnson
2007An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence. Abingdon: Routledge.
2014Framing the Interpreter: Towards a Visual Perspective. London: Routledge.
2003 “Taking an Interpreted Witness Statement at the Police Station: What Did the Witness Actually Say?” In The Critical Link 3: Interpreters in the Community, edited by Louise Brunette, Georges L. Bastin, Isabelle Hemlin, and Heather Clarke, 195–209. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Fraser, Janet, and Michael Gold
2001 “ ‘Portfolio Workers’: Autonomy and Control amongst Freelance Translators.” Work, Employment and Society 15 (4): 679–697.
2012 “Exploring the Boundaries of Transcreation in Specialized Translation.” ESP Across Cultures 9: 95–113.
2012 “Legalising EU Legal Interpreters: A Case for the NRPSI.” The Interpreters’ Newsletter 17: 139–156.
Goldschmidt, Deborah, and Johannes F. Schmieder
2017 “The Rise of Domestic Outsourcing and the Evolution of the German Wage Structure.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 132 (3): 1165–1217.
2000 “Tailoring Translation Programs to Social Needs: A Survey of Professional Translators.” Target 12 (1): 127–149.
2015 “Police Management and Workforce Reform in a Period of Austerity.” In Police Services: Leadership and Management Perspectives, edited by Paresh Wankhade and David Weir, 115–127. Cham: Springer.
Martinsen, Bodil, and Kirsten Wølch-Rasmussen
2003 “What Skills and Structures Should Be Required in Legal Interpreting and Translation to Meet the Needs?” In Aequalitas: Equal Access to Justice across Language and Culture in the EU, edited by Erik Hertog, 48–58. Antwerp: Lessins Hogenschool.
2013 “Transnational Crime.” In Corruption and Anti-Corruption, edited by Peter Larmour and Nick Wolanin, 131–145. Canberra: ANU Press.
2017 “Under Pressure: Translation in Times of Austerity.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 25 (3): 1–14.
Mulayim, Sedat, and Miranda Lai
2017Ethics for Police Translators and Interpreters. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
1992Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism and the Colonial Context. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Perez, Isabelle Anne, and Christine Walker Leckie
2009Translation, Interpreting and Communication Support: A Review of Provision in Public Services in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.