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Deaf People: Interpreters

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that the national guidance laid down by his Department on language service professionals for deaf people in the criminal justice system results in access to the justice system for deaf people. (115954)

The revised national agreement on the use of interpreters in the Criminal Justice System will give clear guidance on identifying the right mode of access and communication for a deaf person and on finding an appropriate language service professional. The text will be sent to all criminal justice agencies, and it is their responsibility to ensure that the guidance is implemented appropriately.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to create a national single contact register of language service professionals for deaf people available to police constabularies on a 24-hour basis. (115955)

The Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People already provides a searchable register of language service professionals. The database is available to subscribers on a 24-hour basis. The revised national agreement will provide additional guidance on other sources of language services professionals to assist in communication with deaf people in the criminal justice system.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to amend the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to define interpreters as regards deaf people to mean those as appropriate to the communication needs of a deaf person, to include language service professionals who are BSL/English interpreters, lipspeakers, deaf blind interpreters and speech to text reporters. (114913)

Section 13 of PACE Code C states that wherever possible, interpreters for the deaf are drawn from the Directory of BSL/English interpreters.

However, we are content to consider amending this Section of PACE Code C in any future revision of the Codes of Practice, and lipspeakers, deaf blind interpreters and speech to text reporters will be added to the Register of Changes which is found on the Home Office PACE Codes web page.

http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/powers-pace-codes/pace-code-intro/

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps police constabularies are taking to meet their duties to deaf people under the Disability Discrimination Acts and the Disability Equality Duty; (114915)

(2) what assessment he has made of the extent to which delays take place in police stations when a deaf detainee is being processed because of the time taken to find a British Sign Language/English interpreter or lipspeaker;

(3) if he will take steps to ensure that all language service professionals attending police stations are provided with (a) the Police and Criminal Evidence Act guidelines Code of Practice A-G and (b) other essential documents of police procedure;

(4) how many people (a) with and (b) without a hearing disability were processed at police stations in the last 12 months.

This information is not held centrally and is a matter for individual chief police officers.

PACE is available online at:

http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/powers-pace-codes/pace-code-intro/.