All in a day’s work for Cintra interpreters: 22 hours in police custody.
Don’t worry, we’re both qualified police interpreters, so it’s quite normal for the police to invite us down to the station for a few words. We don’t normally work together, but they needed both of us for this job; seven people held in custody on suspicion of false imprisonment. Though we knew what the term on the charge sheet meant, we did some research and found the legal definition of false imprisonment. We translated it and discussed it. We had all evening to prepare in our mother tongue for the sorts of issues and legal terms we’d need to translate quickly and accurately the next day.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
We got to the police station at 9am. The sergeant said: ‘I hope you’re ready to spend the next 12 hours with us, it’s going to be a long one’. He was more than right. Police interpreters are used to working anti-social hours and long hours don’t scare me. It’s a good way to challenge your brain.
We’d known that it was never going to be a straightforward job, and unusually, we’d even had time to prepare. Then, just as I was interpreting the ‘rights’ for the first suspect, he was further arrested for rape. My job just got even more challenging. More circuits in my brain lit up. I remembered back to the Diploma of Police Interpreting course I took with Cintra. We had a lovely lady trainer – a police retired officer – who shared with us some of her experiences getting to know the victims of sex crimes – and the criminal perpetrators. She introduced us to words that didn’t need definitions.
Back to the sergeant: he asked me to help interpret for the doctor so he could take intimate samples from the alleged male offenders. Well, the interpreter’s job is to explain what’s going on, and the sergeant was happy I was a male.
The solicitors started arriving, so things got rolling. Each consultation was one and a half hours long. Then solicitors had to be changed as they discovered conflicts. Before I realised, six hours had gone past. Back in the waiting room on a short break, I could hear my stomach rumbling, but it wasn’t the right time for lunch. A couple of new solicitors arrived. We had to get things going. You can eat later, I told myself.
Two hours later another interpreter arrived. That was my lucky break – I snuck out for a juicy McDonalds. And I managed to get some chicken for my wife. It was hard to find each other between interviews and consultations. She didn’t really enjoy that meal, bless her.
Half an hour’s break and that BigMac recharged my batteries. Back at the interviews the detectives were meticulous. They were all ears as I interpreted their blunt questions and the suspect’s answers. All this while my wife and the other interpreters were in adjacent interview rooms. Like me, they were listening intently and choosing their words carefully. It went on and on, and then it was time for the very last interview.
You could say I was the last man standing, so lucky me, I got to interpret for the last interview. It was 1 o’clock in the morning when we entered the interview room. The solicitor had to put a lot of questions. One and a half hours later: conflict! With that last solicitor gone, the police had run out of legals to call on.
After two hours of phone calls, looking in vain for solicitors, the police officers finally reached a solution. They could get a legal representative at another police station, so we bundled into cars and managed a quick transfer. Well, even at 3 o’clock in the morning, it was a 50-minute drive. Good thing it took me closer to home. And now my wife had finished her shift, at least she was able to turn up the expensive ‘central heating’ and sleep in the car.
I realised I was at that stage, past sleep, where I could go on and on. Just as well, because this final interview was very long and the questions from the detectives seemed like they would peel the skin off this man they had arrested on suspicion of rape.
Finally finished at 7am. I was not so much relieved as frustrated when I left the police station – 22 hours after walking in.
That’s it. That’s the end of my story. I can’t tell you why it was frustrating, or give you more details. I’m a police interpreter and the work I do is highly confidential.
Our interpreter blogger, Cristian, is originally from Romania and is a qualified interpreter with a Diploma in Police Interpreting.
Photo credit: Geoffrey Lebrec/freeimages.com