Police interpreting

When does interpreting at the police become necessary?
Based on the Directive 2010/64/EU, interpretation must be provided free of charge to suspected or accused persons who do not speak or understand the language of the criminal proceedings. Interpreters are also called when witnesses or victims have no sufficient command of the official language. Lawful interception practised by the criminal police often requires translation as well, when phone calls or messages are conducted in a foreign language.

How does interpreting at the police look like?
In most cases, consecutive interpreting is applied. Apart from that, many written contents must be translated, for instance in case of warnings for the accused. The full minutes of a police interview are usually re-translated to the testifying person before he or she can sign the final document.

What is special about interpreting at the police?
First and foremost the topics are special. Many of the cases are normally known only from the media. Bodily harm, sexual abuse, robbery or even murder must be dealt with, requiring a great deal of professional discretion.
The purpose of interpreting (help in investigating and inquiring of criminal offences) as well as the places (interrogation rooms, police stations with security systems, police custody etc.) are special as well.

What skills does a police interpreter need?
Police interpreters face many challenges. Therefore, only qualified interpreters should be hired.
One of the most essential factors is neutrality. The interpreter must remain neutral under all circumstances and his or her work should be limited to rendering the meaning into a different language. Some statements can be imprecise, poor in context, illogical or even completely incomprehensible. A good interpreter may not fill the gaps in any meaning or make a statement of the interrogated person sound "better".

I will be happy to help you with your police appointments as an interpreter in English, German and Polish. For all other languages you will find sworn interpreters at www.justiz-dolmetscher.de. Most police stations have their own interpreters' lists as well.

All contents on legal topics provided on this website are for information only and shall not be construed as legal advice. Every reference herein is made to the best of knowledge and belief. However, no liability whatsoever can be assumed for any information.