thebigword, which is the UK’s largest government supplier of interpreting services, is deploying a new weapon for police in the fight against crime and terrorism.
Law enforcement agencies will have instant access to thebigword group’s video remote interpreting service when questioning detained suspects who speak limited English.
The service has the potential to dramatically speed up criminal investigations and also reduce public spending on travel costs. The service has been made possible by new guidelines issued by the Home Office which allow for secure and accurate communication between a suspect and an interpreter who is not physically present.
Larry Gould, chief executive of thebigword, said: “Our new on-demand service for video remote interpreting will give police officers an extra hand in their fight against crime and terrorism.
“Instead of having to wait for an interpreter to arrive at the police station to help question a suspect who speaks limited English, officers can rapidly connect to an expert linguist and pursue their investigation without losing any valuable time.
“If you get intelligence quickly it does save lives. Hopefully it will help to cut terrorist attacks.”
thebigword is trialling the service in London and New York ahead of full launch later this year. Mr Gould said it was being tested by three of the firm’s clients.
Security consultant Michael Brooker, a former director of language and cultural services at the Metropolitan Police, introduced an early video conferencing platform in London at the start of the decade.
He said video remote interpreting speeds up investigations, aids the recovery of proceeds of crime and reduces public spending, particularly on travel costs.
Mr Brooker, who worked as a senior detective, said: “You have to act quickly with evidence gathering. Delays can harm an investigation.”
The £60m-turnover group holds the Ministry of Justice contract for interpreting services and provides expert linguists to courts, tribunals, prisons, the probation service and other organisations in the justice sector, such as the Crown Prosecution Service and police forces.
Its suite of technology-enabled language services has helped to rapidly expand the number of police force customers over the last year.
thebigword’s most recent contract win is to supply a full set of language services to Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies in a combined procurement exercise.
The group provides telephone interpreting services to 14 forces under a Crown Commercial Services framework. It is now expanding the range of services it supplies to these and other forces across the UK to meet demand for translation and interpreting.
Mr Gould founded thebigword as a start-up in 1981, providing translation services to businesses mainly based in Yorkshire. Since then, thebigword has expanded to become one of the largest companies of its kind in the UK with a fast-growing international presence.
The company has 600 employees, a network of 14,000 linguists, and is now one of the most significant private sector businesses in Leeds.
The company’s services are used by around 80 per cent of the world’s top 100 global brands and organisations.