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New UK Guidelines Address ‘Electronic Translation Devices

In today’s blog, we will look at the UK government’s new guidelines for detained individuals.


On July 21, 2022, UK Immigration Enforcement published new guidelines on communicating with arrested individuals of limited English proficiency (LEP). In addition to highlighting the processes for petitioning interpreting services, the document also discusses using Electronic Translation Devices.


Immigration Enforcement functions under the Home Office, and the policies apply to all Home Office staff and suppliers involved in helping people in immigration detention comprehend their cases.


The document mentions that these electronic translation devices should not replace in-person or telephonic interpretation services (OPI) for crucial interactions where authenticity is of primary importance, such as medical appointments, asylum interviews, and certain paperwork.


Mobile phones with translation apps are provided that the Home Office staff might use for informal communications, such as welfare checks.


According to the guidelines, currently, there is no industry-certified standard for the accuracy of the electronic translation. Unless it has been proven, the device manufacturers’ claims regarding accuracy should not be relied on. The Home Office Compliance Team must approve the translation of the devices.

With that said, once it is approved, an appropriate number of devices should be stored in all the facilities to support informal communications between staff and the detainees.


Translation gadgets should also be trialled before being used in immigration removal centres, with regular monthly and quarterly evaluations on 10% of devices to verify that they function correctly and that suitable security measures are in place. This includes making sure that personal data remains private.

For instance, if an incarcerated individual begins to discuss personal details such as details about their health or legal case to a staff member through an electronic translation device, the staff member should switch to using OPI immediately.


The Home Office needs immigration removal centres to have OPI available day and night, 24 hours, in various languages, checked at least biannually against the needs of each centre’s population.


In some abnormal circumstances, electronic translation devices might be used instead of preferred professional services, such as a large number of admissions taking place simultaneously, situations in which on-site interpreting or OPI are not available, or where acquiring them may cause unnecessary delays.


This is the end of today’s blog update. We hope you found this blog useful. Please don’t forget to support us by subscribing to our newsletter and sharing this blog with your friends and family on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter.


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