By Jemina Napier
Click here to see a version of this blogpost in BSL.
As part of the Justisigns project, which is funded through the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme, a masterclass was run in November 2015 jointly between the Heriot-Watt University BSL/Justisigns team and Police Scotland and included CID/police interview advisors, Deaf community representatives and BSL/English interpreters. The workshop involved joint and group sessions on the potential barriers for deaf people in accessing police interviews, the challenges for interpreters to accurately convey the goals of police interviewers, and deaf/sign language awareness raising for police interviewers, as well as interactive simulation role plays of BSL interpreted police interviews.
One of the issues raised during the discussions was the lack of standardization in a translation of the Scottish police caution, so interpreters may produce different versions of the caution in BSL. As the police caution is legally binding, the words are used specifically and are read out verbatim by police interviewers and sometimes followed up by an explanation if the person being questioned does not understand the formal caution.
Although a BSL translation of the English police caution is available, the wording of the caution is different from the Scottish caution, and therefore the BSL translation is also different from what is needed in Scotland.
At the masterclass workshop it was identified that having a BSL translation of the Scottish Common Law Caution available on video as a reference point for police, interpreters and the Deaf community would be a useful development. The ideal would be for a BSL translation to be accessible online for police to access on a mobile device (for example if detaining someone before an interpreter arrives) or for interpreters or deaf people to access at the point of a police interview (e.g. through an iPad or computer). At no point would the availability of the BSL translation circumvent the need for a BSL/English interpreter, as it is a legal requirement for interpreters to be present for any interaction between a police officer and a person who uses a different language.
So as a follow-up to the masterclass, we organized a translation workshop and invited key stakeholder representatives to be involved in discussing, developing and finalizing a standard BSL translation of the Scottish police caution. In addition to the Heriot-Watt University BSL/Justisigns team participants included representatives from Police Scotland, the British Deaf Association (Scotland), experienced legal BSL/English interpreters and a deaf interpreter.
The participants engaged in a ‘forward and backward’ translation process (Tate, Collins & Tymms, 2003), reviewing drafts of BSL translations, discussing lexical and legal conceptual challenges and creating new BSL versions of the caution.
At the end of the workshop a final version was agreed upon and filmed. This BSL translation of the Scottish Law Caution is now available to be referenced by BSL/English interpreters and interpreting students, police officers and Deaf community members in Scotland.
(Scottish Law Caution BSL translation translated by deaf interpreter, Clare Canton)
As part of the discussions it was also agreed to film an explanation of the Scottish Law Caution in BSL, to reflect what typically happens in a police interview where a police offer would read the caution verbatim, and then provide an explanation. The explanation that we agreed upon is as follows:
This Scottish police Caution means: You have the right to be silent. You don’t have to answer any questions, and you don’t have to tell me anything about what’s happened. But if do you have any explanation or comment to give at any point in this process, this is your opportunity to do that and we will record it (written, audio, video). And the recording may be used for further investigation in this case and in court proceedings.
This BSL translation of the explanation is also now available to be referenced by BSL/English interpreters and interpreting students, police officers and Deaf community members in Scotland.
(Scottish Law Caution BSL explanation produced by legal interpreter, Brenda Mackay)
We would like to thank all the workshop participants for their contribution to creating this resource for interpreters, police and deaf BSL users in Scotland, and encourage as many people as possible to access this resource.