Professional
     Interpreters'
           Alliance

Registered Public-Service Interpreters
campaigning for their profession

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Professional Interpreters’ Alliance - FAQs

Q.: WHAT IS THE PROFESSIONAL INTERPRETERS’ ALLIANCE?
A.: PIA was originally set up as a national membership organisation for Registered Public Service Interpreters to campaign for their profession. In 2014, membership functions were ended, as reported in PIA Bulletin 6. But PIA’s Legal Fund contributed to some more legal actions in furtherance of Public Service Interpreters’ collective aims.

Q.: WHY WAS PIA SET UP?
A.: Interpreters in the Northwest of England set up PIA in January 2009 in response to four police forces’ plans to outsource interpreting provision to a commercial agency. PIA’s members wanted to keep their status as independent freelancers directly engaged by the police and courts in accordance with the existing National Agreement for the use of interpreters.

Q.: WHAT WERE AND ARE PIA’S AIMS?
A.: The Professional Interpreters’ Alliance (PIA) worked to promote and safeguard the interests of professional public service interpreters registered on the NRPSI. It fought against exploitation of the profession by commercial intermediaries and outsourcing of interpreting services within the public sector. PIA aimed to unite professional public service interpreters in the whole country and was one of the organisations that helped form Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J). Now, PIA does not actively campaign but does support legal actions from the Legal Fund.

Q.: WHY WAS PIA INCORPORATED AS A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE?
A.: In the summer of 2010 it was decided to bring legal action in respect of the Northwest police contract. It was necessary for PIA to become a legal entity in order to bring the Judicial Review proceedings against Greater Manchester Police and others. PIA Ltd continues to exist to look after the Legal Fund.

Q.: HOW IS PIA REPRESENTING INTERPRETERS?
A.: Following the conclusion in 2011 of the Judicial Review proceedings brought by PIA, the North West police contracts were quashed. Unfortunately, later, they were restarted. In the same year, on behalf of its members in the South East, PIA initiated proceedings for a Judicial Review of Bedfordshire Police’s decision to outsource to a commercial intermediary. The JR did not go ahead. PIA continually made representations to the Ministry of Justice, formulating joint position statements with sister organisations in Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J). PIA collected and contributed a great deal of material and evidence to the enquiries by the National Audit Office, the Justice Select Committee and Public Accounts Committee in 2012. At present, PIA continues to collect news items in its archive.

Q.: WHO PAYS FOR LEGAL ACTIONS?
A.: PIA raised money for legal action from voluntary contributions to the Legal Fund. Most members’ non-refundable contribution was in the order of £50-200. Some gave more, some gave more than once. There were many anonymous donations too. There were a number of loans from £500-3500 at crucial times which were later refunded. PIA Ltd’s directors are custodians of the Legal Fund.

Q.: HOW DO PIA MEMBERS CAMPAIGN?
A.: PIA’s former members continue to maintain their individual boycott of the UK Ministry of Justice’s contract for interpreting services. PIA encourages professional interpreters to keep lobbying MPs and to express their opposition to outsourcing of language services by police forces and the Ministry of Justice.
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