Promoting Equal Access to Justice in Multilingual Societies
Submitting InstitutionHeriot-Watt University
Unit of AssessmentModern Languages and Linguistics
Summary Impact TypeLegal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Criminology, Policy and Administration, Sociology
Summary of the impact
Research in CTISS (Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in
Scotland) by Böser, Mason, Perez, Wilson on face-to-face interpreting has
facilitated equal access to justice for speakers of foreign languages in
police investigative processes at national and international level. Three
mature strands of impact can be identified:
- Informing and guiding changes to police practice and training for
working with interpreters at national and international level, and
influencing legal professionals and policy makers in the area of
communication support in investigative processes.
- Providing the foundation for evidence-based policy-making in
multilingual communication support.
- Intervening in a vicious circle of under-professionalization by
focusing on the development of professional training, quality assurance
and professional accreditation.
Since 2009 the focus and driver for this impact has been the
transposition of European milestone legislation on language rights in
criminal proceedings (EU Directive 2010/64).
The principal research themes underpinning the impact are:
- Analysing linguistic requirements to inform evidence based
Perez and Wilson explored the need for Translation, Interpreting and
Communication Support (TICS) in public services in Scotland in a
government commissioned report (2006, http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/01/25141550/0)
and furnished evidence of an acute and previously unchartered demand. The
primary and innovative objective of the project was to study TICS from the
perspective of providers and public sector bodies. The recommendations of
the report to the Scottish Minister for Communities and Social Justice
informed policy regarding future TICS provision and associated training
requirements. The report by the European Language Council's Special
Interest Group on Translation and Interpreting for Public Services (Perez
et al 2011 http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/scic/news/2011_sigtips_en.htm)
analyses the situation concerning translation and interpreting for public
services in Europe. The ImPLI report (Böser, Wilson et al, 2012, http://www.isit-paris.fr/documents/ImPLI/Final_Report.pdf)
surveys police interpreting practices in six jurisdictions. It provides
the first overview of its kind on associated issues and provides a set of
- Conceptualising the role of the interpreter in face-to-face
investigative communication to support best practice.
Police interviews are the central interactional resource in the
investigative process. Little research has been carried out on the role of
interpreters in such interactions. Research in CTISS has built on Mason's
pioneering conceptualisation of the interpreter's role (2000, 2001, 2006,
2009). Applying critical discourse analysis and pragmatics to
socially-situated, mediated face-to-face interaction this research
identifies a clash between users' perceptions of interpreters as mere
"conduits" and the active role which interpreters play in the construction
of mediated discourse. This process involves complex triadic negotiations
of meaning and of the boundaries of the interpreter's role in a context of
frequently conflicting expectations by institutional and non-institutional
users. CTISS researchers have drawn on this work in their exploration of
face-to-face interpreting in the context of the pre-trial stage of legal
proceedings. Böser (2013) shows the impact which specific modes of
interpreting have on the realisation of the institutional goals which
shape forensic formats of police interviews.
- Research based interventions in the advancement of
professionalization of Public Service Interpreting (PSI).
The TICS report (2006) highlights the preponderance of conditions (e.g.
use of unqualified interpreters) and processes (e.g. modalities of
procurement) which jeopardise the provision of a high quality service. The
ImPLI report (2012) corroborates and develops these findings at European
level. Ricoy (2010) provides an analysis of the interrelationship of
elements and constraints in the professionalization of PSI. This
interconnectedness of factors informs the interlinked approach to training
for all participants in interpreter mediated police settings outlined by
Perez and Wilson (2011).
Research was carried out with external funding from a variety of sources:
- the Scottish Executive for the TICS report (£50,000)
- DG Criminal Justice for EULITA I and II, ImPLI, TRAFUT,
Co-Minor-IN/QUEST (share of grants, CTISS: €153,949)
- AHRC for Negotiating the Ethical Maze in Interpreter-mediated
Investigative Interviews (£37,671)
Key researchers: Ursula Böser, Ian Mason (left in 2010),
Isabel Perez, Christine Wilson.
References to the research
Böser, U. 2013. `So tell me what happened — interpreting the free recall
segment of the investigative interview' Translation and Interpreting
Studies, 8:1,112 - 136.
• Publication with John Benjamins in a world
leading series on Translation and Interpreting Studies, peer-reviewed,
official journal of the American Translation and Interpreting
Studies Association, indexed in a wide range of sources.
(See REF2, PDF available)
Mason, I. & M. Stewart 2001. "Interactional pragmatics, face and the
dialogue interpreter". I. Mason (ed.). Triadic exchanges.
Manchester: St Jerome, 51-70. ISBN 1-900650-36-3
• Major reference work in the emerging field of dialogue interpreting
from major publisher in the field of Translation Studies bringing
together a renowned group of scholars in the field.
Mason, I. 2006. `Ostension, inference and response: analysing participant
moves in Community Interpreting dialogues', Linguistica Antverpiensia,
New Series 5 — Taking stock: Research and Methodology in Community
Interpreting, 103-120. ISSN 978 90 5487 829
• Peer-reviewed, annual publication for the study of language,
translation and culture, with a special focus on translation studies.
Editorial board of internationally renowned scholars.
Mason. I. 2009. `Role, Positioning and discourse in face-to-face
interpreting' in De Pedro Ricoy, aquel, Isabelle Perez, and Christine
Wilson (eds.) Interpreting and Translating in Public Service Settings.
Policy, Practice, Pedagogy. Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 52-73.
• Publication by major publisher in the field of Translation Studies
arising from the Breaking Down the Barriers: A Team Effort
international conference organised about Community Interpreting by
CTISS in 2005.
Perez, I. A., Wilson, C.W.L. 2006. Translating, interpreting and
communication support: A review of provision in public services in
Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. ISBN 0755928938.
• Study commissioned by the Scottish government. Quoted in and
informing a number of subsequent policy documents, e.g. Scottish
Consumer Council, NHS Scotland, National Resource Centre for Ethnic
Minority Health (2006) Lost in Translation: towards a
strategic report for people whose first language is not English
Perez, I. A., Wilson C.W. 2011. `The interlinked approach to training for
interpreter mediated police settings' in Kainz, Claudia, Erich Prunc and
Rafael Schögler (eds.) Modelling the Field of Community Interpreting:
Questions of Methodology in Research and Training. Münster: LIT
Verlag, pp 242 - 262. ISBN 978-3643501776
• One of Germany's leading academic publishing houses presents a peer
reviewed selection of innovative models of didactics and curricula for
community interpreters and empirically and methodologically challenging
analyses of various fields of community interpreting.
Details of the impact
Beneficiaries of the research are:
- Decision-makers and stakeholders in communication support in the legal
sector(e.g. senior members of Judiciary)
- Police trainers (e.g. Scottish Police College staff)
- Police Institutional users of interpreting at national and
international levels (e.g. Police Forces)
- Organisations providing communication support (e.g. Happy to
- Knowledge exchange bodies in Policing (e.g. Scottish Institute for
Policing Research, SIPR)
- Professional bodies for legal interpreters (e.g. EULITA)
Police investigative communications involving interpreters have been
enhanced through the work of CTISS. Researchers delivered training for all
new police officers "to the scale of hundreds of officers each year"
(Section 5, Source 2,) on `The Role of the Interpreter' (Initial Detective
Training Course, Interview Advisors Course, 2004-2009, Perez, Wilson) at
the Scottish Police College. This participation resulted in "significant
steps that have been made in professionalisation" (Source 2). A Code
of Practice on How to Work with Interpreters was developed in 2007
as part of the training delivered and continues to be an integral part of
the training material used. CTISS input to the Hostage-Crisis Negotiation
Course, (Böser, Perez, Wilson, 2013) has been described as an instance of
"knowledge transfer from your profession to the operational policing
environment that will no doubt be instrumental in saving life"
(Source 1). Source 2 summarises the impact of CTISS training: "the
Police Scotland standard operating procedure, implemented following the
recent inception of the new force, reflects the learning derived from
the provision made by the department at Heriot-Watt." Böser and
Wilson's DVD on Best Practice in Police Interpreting, one of a set of six
films produced for the ImPLI project and available on YouTube "has been
suggested as worthy of consideration as a potential training tool in
future police and criminal justice partner training" by Police
Scotland (Source 8). A decision about this is imminent at the time of
writing. In 2010 Perez and Wilson contributed to a training video for
members of Happy to Translate, an innovative scheme promoting
equal access by overcoming language barriers between public organisations
and service users. The impact of this "training material extends across
a wide range of professional sectors" (Source 6) such as the Crown
Office Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Criminal Cases Review
Commission, the Scottish Refugee Council.
Since 2010 training has been provided on an on-going basis as CPD
provision to other professional groups, in particular trainee advocates,
and researchers are consulted on an on-going basis by the group advising
the Crown Office Prosecution Service and Court Service (Working Group on
Interpreting and Translation/Legal Services (WGIT) on the monitoring of
interpreting in court. As noted by source 3: "Languages and
Intercultural Studies (LINCS) has collaborated with a variety of legal
professionals over the past ten years, influencing developments relating
to interpreting in the legal field." Dissemination through the ImPLI
Project supported the implementation of EU Directive 2010/64 and enabled
the research outcomes to be adopted by forces in Italy, Germany, France,
Belgium and the Czech Republic. Findings from the research were
disseminated to linguistic and legal experts at a final conference in
Paris (2012) with endorsement from Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the
European Commission (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSmHwLSgfrk).
At the request of Scottish police staff and stakeholders a dissemination
event for ImPLI findings was held at Heriot-Watt in 2013. Source 4
comments on ImPLI: "The outputs of the research are excellent tools for
the training of police officers as well as interpreters", and
attests that ImPLI contributes to "the improvement in the quality of
interpreting services and in effective interpreter-supported
communication". The follow-up project Co-Minor-In/Quest (Böser and
Wilson, January 2013) on interpreter- mediated investigative questioning
of minors builds on the insight and the infrastructure of impact
generation established in the course of the ImPLI project.
Co-operation with police forces generated a body of experimental
audiovisual data on interpreted witness interviews. Findings from this
data were tested in discussion during two seminars (Böser 2011, German
Police University College, Münster, Böser 2012 Ljubljana University) for
European graduates of the FBI Training Academy in Quantico and FBI agents
in Europe. Source 5 was instrumental in the sharing of this "research
work with colleagues in foreign jurisdictions.... The discussion ... has
generated new ways of thinking about police investigations in a
multilingual setting... . It is clear to me that this research work
helps to shape policy and practice in this country and internationally."
In recognition of the significance of this work for policing practice, the
Scottish Police have released an unique data set of interpreted suspect
interviews. This provides the basis for further research which will lead
to evidence-based recommendations for practice
In June 2014 Perez contributed to the creation of a research programme
for the FBI's High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to advance
interviewing practices which laid the foundation for further impact
generation at international level.
The work has advanced the professionalisation of legal interpreting, in
particular through the establishment of an association and EU-wide
register of legal interpreters and translators. Arising from an EU funded
project with CTISS (Perez and Wilson) as one of three academic partners,
EULITA (European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association) was
launched in November 2009. An association of legal interpreters and
translators EULITA also holds the EU-wide register of qualified legal
interpreters and translators and promotes co-operation between
practitioners and researchers (see Source 6). The EULITA website is now
the prime EU repository for all information on legal interpreting and
translation. EULITA has gone on to lead projects such as TRAFUT on the
training of legal interpreters and translators. This project also
addressed a number of impediments to the transposition of EU Directive
2010. Source 3 notes that following participation in the TRAFUT project,
further progress in Scotland will be supported by facilitating the "observing
of interpreter-mediated trials with a view to assessing, and hopefully
remedying quality issues to ensure compliance with the European
Directive and equal access to justice". In recognition of her work
with EULITA Wilson was invited to join a team of experts that developed
the national professional standards which underpin the development of
vocational qualifications in interpreting.
Recently, appropriate procurement procedures have been identified as a
crucial element in the down-stream assurance of quality in police
interpreting provision. An evaluation tool has been developed (Perez and
Wilson, 2010, 2012) to assess the translation/interpretation quality of
samples provided by agencies submitting bids for a Translation and
Interpreting services procurement contract with Lothian and Borders and
Strathclyde Police. This tool assesses "the capabilities of bidders to
comply with the service requirements within the tender for provision of
interpreter and translation services". Source 8 adds that "the
service as a whole will undoubtedly benefit from the results and findings
of this piece of work upon progressive migration to national service
The recognition of the TICS report as a reference point is evident in the
various ways in which it has informed policy discussions and decisions:
the report was at the core of the Lost in Translation seminar,
jointly organised in March 2006 by Consumer Focus Scotland, NRCEMH and NHS
Health Scotland. Subsequently the TICS report authors were asked to
contribute to the consultation process for the design of TICS standards
for the NHS (2011). In 2010 Perez contributed to an analysis of the
European status quo in the field of PSI. The resulting report was endorsed
as a benchmark document for policy in the field of multilingualism by the
Commissioner for Multilingualism and DG Translation and DG Interpreting.
Sources to corroborate the impact
1 Deputy Head of Division, Scottish Police College (SPC).
2 Inspector, Executive Support Unit, Police Scotland, trainer at
3 Senior Judge and Head of the Judiciary in Scotland.
4 President of EULITA (European Legal Interpreters and Translators
5 Former Chief Constable, former president of the FBI National
Academy Associates (European Chapter), Co-founder and senior member of the
Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR).
6 Senior staff, Happy To Translate
7 Senior Translator at European Court of Human Rights
8 Superintendent Police Scotland, Safer Communities
9 ImPLI website, (http://www.isit-paris.fr/-ImPLI-Project-.html),
main European online repository about police interpreting, includes
project output of six films about best practice in police interpreting,
also available via Youtube.
in particular film based on Scottish jurisdiction produced by CTISS (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLx15JSWFqoqCm5ycG6CKzxAQHE-YfrgIj)
10 EULITA website, main European online repository of information
on legal interpreting and translation (http://www.eulita.eu
) including the training of legal interpreters (http://www.eulita.eu/training-future).