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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 12:35 GMT
Police launch interpreter service
Devon and Cornwall Police are offering non-English speaking people a new telephone service.

The service, which has interpreters for 150 languages, is one of the most comprehensive among UK police forces.

The service will be available to anyone who calls the force, either on 999 or non emergency calls and will also be offered to officers on the beat.

The force says the service, which will cost it 1.50 a minute, will save costs in the long term.

Language should not be a barrier to accessing the police
Inspector Mark Taylor

Language Line, the company providing the service, has interpreters for 150 languages who can be called upon around the clock.

In Devon and Cornwall, languages spoken include Sorani, Badini, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish and Russian, while Plymouth boasts the third largest Chinese community in Britain.

Inspector Mark Taylor, who is leading the initiative, said: "We will be able to prioritise calls more easily and we will be able to keep officers on the street for longer because they will be able to access interpreters on the spot.

"Language should not be a barrier to accessing the police and the cost is not prohibitive.

"It is essential that all of the people we serve are able to communicate easily with us."

Callers can state their preferred language and will be connected to a third-party interpreter within 90 seconds of dialling 999 or 08452 777444, the general enquiry number.

The service has been available to custody centres in the past but has been extended to call handling centres, police station enquiry officers and patrolling officers.

Thirty five other UK forces have introduced aspects of the service but Devon & Cornwall Police will be one of the first to comprehensively cover all aspects of public contact.




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