Translators cost police £330,000
DETAILS of the wide range of foreign speakers that have caused Devon & Cornwall Police's interpreter costs to soar have been revealed.
Language specialists were employed 892 times during 2011, putting an additional £330,000 strain on the force's already stretched budget.
The costs have been going up and the region has been one of the hardest hit with regard to fees and travel expenses as most interpreters are based in the North West and London.
Police say the issue had been recognised and a national review is currently taking place to drive costs down.
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Interpreters were most often needed to help in criminal cases where victims, witnesses or suspects were Polish with 297 "transactions" recorded. Lithuanian and Russian interpreters were also needed 129 and 89 times respectively. The figures emerged following a Freedom of Information request.
A spokesman for Devon & Cornwall Police said: "In line with other forces, indeed, public sector services, our organisation has seen a steady rise in the costs associated with providing an adequate service in what is an ever increasing multi-cultural society.
"The constabulary utilises the services of nationally approved interpreters (NRPSI), and local individuals from a locally devised database dependent upon the level and complexity of the service required.
"Owing to our geographic position, this constabulary is somewhat disadvantaged in respect of the NRPSI interpreters who tend to be based in the larger conurbations, particularly in the North West and the London area. As a consequence their use often incurs additional travel, expenses and accommodation costs."
He added: "Nationally this has been recognised and a review of services across the public sector is being conducted with a view to making better use of technology and a potential for the use of regional hubs.
"This organisation welcomes any advances which will reduce costs but maintain high standards of the service delivered to our diverse communities."
The overall cost of providing interpreters to Devon & Cornwall Police in 2011 was £329,056. This compares to £32,000 in 2000 and £277,454 in 2009.
Interpreters were required to deal with Albanians on five occasions; Arabic, 26; Bangladeshi, 2; Bengali, 16; Bulgarian, 6; Cantonese, 5; Czech, 16; Dari, 11; Farsi, 12; French, 10; Georgian, 1; German, 6; Greek, 2; Hindi, 1; Hungarian, 6; Iraqi/Kurdish/Sorani, 26; Italian, 5; Japanese, 4; Korean, 1; Latvian, 5; Lithuanian, 129; Mandarin, 23; Nepalese, 1; Polish, 297; Portuguese, 15; Romanian, 49; Russian, 89; Sign Language, 47; Slovak, 5; Somali, 1; Spanish, 5; Taiwanese, 2; Tamil, 1; Thai, 9; Tigrinia, 7; Turkish, 26; Ukrainian, 3; Urdu/Punjabi, 11; Vietnamese, 4. Two transactions are listed as "miscellaneous".