Interpreter Training Manual

Serving the residents and businesses in Surrey

Go back to Surrey County Council Go back to Surrey County Council

There is a two tier system of local government in Surrey, the county council, and the 11 districts and borough councils. Generally, the county council is responsible for the more strategic functions and services such as; education and social care whereas the districts and boroughs provide more local services. Some functions are shared between county and district.

Children’s services

Adult social care

With a resident population of 1.1million, Surrey is the most densely populated and third most populated county in the South East region, after Kent and Hampshire

Surrey County Council’s corporate strategy sets out three strategic goals that the council aims to achieve for all Surrey residents. More information about the strategic goals can be found on the link below:

Ethnicity in Surrey

The majority of the population, 1,023,682 people (90.4% of the population), reported their ethnic group as White in the 2011 Census. Within this ethnic group, White British was the largest, with 945,673 people (83.5%), followed by those categorised as “Any Other White” with 62,736 people (5.5%).

Indian was the next largest single ethnic group with 20,232 people (1.8%) followed by Pakistani (1.0%). However, those categorised as “Other Asian” accounted for 1.7% of the population in total.

There were two new tick boxes in the 2011 Census: Gypsy or Irish Traveller and Arab. Arab accounted for 4,101 usual residents (0.4% of the population). Gypsy or Irish Traveller accounted for 2,261 usual residents (0.2% of the population), making it the smallest ethnic category (with a tick box) in 2011.

Figure 1: Ethnic groups, Surrey, 2011

Changing picture of ethnicity over time

Over the last decade Surrey became more ethnically diverse. Caution is needed when comparing census ethnic data over the years due to changes and increases in tick boxes and changes to how the question was worded (change from cultural to ethnic background).

While White continued to be the majority ethnic group people identify with, it decreased over the last decade. In 2001, the White ethnic group accounted for 95.0% of the population. This decreased between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses to 90.4%. Within the White ethnic group, White British had decreased from 89.3% in 2001 to 83.5% in 2011.

There was an increase in all other minority ethnic groups with a big increase in people reporting their ethnicity in “Other Asian” groups.

Table 1: Ethnic Groups, 2001 – 2011, Surrey

Ethnic group20112001
 White: British945,67383.5%946,07489.3%
 White: Irish13,0121.1%13,8681.3%
 White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller  2,2610.2%not counted
 White: Other White62,7365.5%46,1474.4%
 Mixed/multiple ethnic groups: White and Black Caribbean  4,9200.4%  2,3600.2%
 Mixed/multiple ethnic groups: White and Black African  2,7360.2%  1,2260.1%
 Mixed/multiple ethnic groups: White and Asian  9,6570.9%  5,3350.5%
 Mixed/multiple ethnic groups: Other mixed  6,2410.6%  3,7880.4%
 Asian/Asian British: Indian20,2321.8%10,6401.0%
 Asian/Asian British: Pakistani10,8181.0%  6,2650.6%
 Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi 3,4000.3%  1,9030.2%
 Asian/Asian British: Chinese9,4610.8%5,4520.5%
 Asian/Asian British: Other Asian19,5871.7%4,3070.4%
 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African7,8280.7%2,8270.3%
 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Caribbean3,3030.3%2,2500.2%
 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Other Black1,2990.1%5480.1%
 Other ethnic group: Arab4,1010.4%not counted
 Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group5,1250.5%6,0250.6%


Differences in ethnicity across local authorities

Woking is the most diverse district in Surrey with 75.0% of its population identified as White British. Waverley is the least diverse with 90.6% White British. Elmbridge has the highest proportion (10.4%) in all other white groups with Tandridge the lowest (4.6%). Spelthorne has the highest proportion of Indian ethnic group (4.2%) and Woking has the highest proportion of Pakistani ethnic group (5.7%).

Table 2: Ethnic groups 2011, Local Authorities in Surrey


White BritishAll other White groupsMixed/ multiple ethnic groupsAsian/Asian British: IndianAsian/Asian
British: Pakistani
All other Asian ethnic groupsBlack/ African/ Caribbean/
Black British
Other ethnic groupsAll non-white ethnic groups
Epsom and Ewell78.6%7.3%2.6%2.4%0.9%5.3%1.5%1.4%14.1%
Mole Valley90.1%5.0%1.5%0.8%0.2%1.5%0.5%0.4%4.9%
Reigate and Banstead85.0%5.7%2.2%1.6%0.9%2.6%1.6%0.6%9.4%
Surrey Heath85.0%5.2%1.9%2.0%0.8%3.5%1.0%0.7%9.8%


Figure 2: Ethnic groups excluding White British 2011, Local Authorities in Surrey



The older population is less diverse than the younger cohorts. 92.5% of people aged 65+ are White British with just 2.7% in non-white ethnic groups. Other white ethnicities are most dominant in the 25–64 age group (8.4%). The highest proportion of Asian ethnicities (other than Indian and Pakistani) is among young adults aged 16–24 (4.5%). The proportion of mixed/multiple ethnic groups is highest among children under 16 (5.2%).


Figure 3: Ethnic groups excluding White British by age group 2011



Religion in Surrey

The Census asks people to state their religion. The question is voluntary and “no religion” is one of the options available.

Christianity is the largest religion in Surrey with 711,110 people (62.8% of the population). 5% of the population (56,390) reported a Non-Christian religion. Within the Non-Christian religions, Muslim was the largest group with 24,378 people (2.2%) followed by Hindu with 15,018 people (1.3%). 24.8% of the population reported to have “no religion” and 7.4% did not answer the religion question.

Figure 4: Religion, Surrey, 2011


Changing picture of religion over time

Over the last decade, the proportion of Christians in Surrey decreased, going from 74.6% in 2001 to 62.8% in 2011 and the proportion of people reporting “No religion” increased from 15.2% to 24.8%. There was an increase in all other main religions. The number of Muslims increased the most from 1.3% in 2001 to 2.2% in 2011.


Table 3: Religion, Census 2001–2011, Surrey


Other religion41370.4%32810.3%
 No religion28081424.8%16107415.2%
Religion not stated840767.4%748457.1%


Differences in religion across local authorities

Christianity was the largest religion across all boroughs in Surrey. In 10 out of 11 boroughs the proportion of people who were Christian was over 60%. Waverley was the borough with the highest percentage of Christians (65.2%) and the lowest percentages in all the Non-Christian religions. Woking was the most diverse borough in terms of religion with 10.7% of the population identifying with a religion other than Christian and had the highest proportion of Muslims at 7.4%. The proportion reporting no religion increased across all the boroughs. The borough with the highest proportion of people stating that they have “No religion” was Guilford with 27.8%. Guilford was also the borough that had the largest decrease in Christian affiliation (-13.4 percentage points).


Table 4: Religion 2011, Local Authorities in Surrey


 % Christian % Buddhist %


 % Muslim % Jewish %





No religion


not stated

Epsom and Ewell61.
Mole Valley64.
Reigate and Banstead61.
Surrey Heath63.


Differences across age groups

Younger people are more likely to have no religion than older people. More than a third (36%) of young adults aged 16–24 say they have no religion whereas only 10% of people aged over 65 have no religion. Older people are more likely to be Christian with 80% affiliating with this religion. In contrast, only 51% of young adults say they are Christian. The highest proportion of the population who have other religions is the 25–44 age group where 7.2% have non-Christian religions.
Figure 5: Religion by age 2011 – Surrey

Main languages spoken in Surrey

In Surrey, 94% of people aged three and over stated that their main language was English. Nearly 65,000 Surrey residents gave another language as their main language. The borough with the highest proportion of English speakers was Tandridge (97.3%), and the lowest was Woking (89.9%).

Surrey has a higher proportion of English speakers than England as a whole, where 92% of the population stated that their main language was English.


Figure 6:  Percentage of population whose main language is not English



Table 5: Main language


 % English% not EnglishNot English (number)
Epsom and Ewell92.6%7.4%5,367
Mole Valley96.7%3.3%2,738
Reigate and Banstead95.0%5.0%6,567
Surrey Heath94.8%5.2%4,298
South East94.2%5.8%481,423


Table 6: Languages with more than 1,000 speakers in Surrey


Chinese (including Mandarin Cantonese and others)4,426
Bengali (With Sylheti and Chatgaya)1,630


Proficiency in English

People who stated that their main language was not English were asked how well they could speak English. The options were: Very well, well, not well or not at all.

53.1% of Surrey residents whose main language is not English consider that they can speak English very well, and a further 35.4% can speak it well. Nearly 6,500 people cannot speak English well and a further 1,000 cannot speak English at all. The borough with the highest number of people with poor English skills is Woking, where nearly 1,500 cannot speak English or can’t speak it well.

Non English speakers in Surrey have better English skills than non-English speakers in England as a whole where 79.3% of people whose main language is not English can speak English well or very well.


Table 7: Proficiency in English of people whose main language is not English


% speak English very well% speak English well% speak English not well % cannot speak EnglishSpeak English not well (number)Cannot speak English (number)
Surrey53.1%35.4%9.9%1.5%6,438 996
Elmbridge56.9%32.3%9.2%1.6% 755 131
Epsom and Ewell51.4%35.5%11.1%2.0% 597 107
Guildford52.4%39.0%7.8%0.8% 766 76
Mole Valley53.6%35.4%9.9%1.2% 270 32
Reigate and Banstead55.6%32.2%10.4%1.7% 686 114
Runnymede53.9%35.7%9.4%0.9% 587 59
Spelthorne51.6%36.2%10.5%1.6% 617 93
Surrey Heath54.6%34.6%9.1%1.7% 393 72
Tandridge54.5%35.9%8.4%1.2% 185 27
Waverley54.6%35.9%8.1%1.4% 322 56
Woking48.5%36.0%13.1%2.4% 1,260 229
South East46.5%37.4%13.6%2.4% 65,638 11,600


Figure 7: Number of people who cannot speak English well or not at all – by Local Authority


SCC holds the third largest caseload of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) nationally, many of Surrey’s UASC and former UASC populations are placed out of county. In 2014–15 Surrey’s numbers of UASC increased significantly in contrast to the previous year.

Figure 8: Language by UASC Population and age


Figure 9: UASC Trends over the past two years

Figure 10: SCC Looked After UASC Nationality – 2015 and 2014

Figure 11: SCC Looked After UASC by Religion


Identifying health

  • UASC may struggle with their emotional health due to the trauma they are likely to have experienced before, during and after arriving in the UK.
  • UASC may be frightened to disclose a mental health problem as not wanting it to impact their asylum claim and/or due to prejudices associated with mental health in their country of origin.
  • According to statistics from UNICEF, 88–89% of 15–49 year olds from Eritrea and Sudan will have experienced FGM. As at August 2015, all of the female UASC in SCC’s care were from Eritrea and/or Sudan.
  • UASC may arrive in the UK with injuries from their journeys and/or previous health problems. While for some UASC these are picked up when they enter the UK by the Home Office, the majority of UASC entering Surrey miss these initial health checks as they have been smuggled and gone unnoticed by the UK Border Agency.

Identifying need (safeguarding)

  • Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a risk for male and female UASC before, during and after their journeys to the UK. CSE could be used as a means of torture or as a weapon by traffickers. However, it is very rare for an UASC to disclose CSE.
  • UASC are at risk of human trafficking as they may be forced to travel with human smugglers and are particularly vulnerable as they are travelling alone.

UASC may be at risk of getting involved in radicalisation as they are vulnerable, but currently there is limited data on the numbers of UASC involved in this.

The provision of an effective interpreting and translation service for Surrey County Council is essential for Children’s Services, which currently has the third largest caseload of unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the country.

Between September 2014 – September 2015, Surrey County Council booked face-to-face interpreters for more than 1,500 appointments. These bookings were made by Children’s Services (89% of bookings), Adult Social Care (10% of bookings) and Schools and Learning (1%).

Bookings were made for over 40 languages (including BSL) during this period. The top 10 languages that Surrey County Council booked interpreters for are: Tigrinya (33%), Arabic (17%), Polish (16%), Pashto (8%), Punjabi (6%), Amharic (5%), Farsi (4%), Sylheti (4%), and Bengali (4%), Kurdish (Sorani) (3%).

Key council programmes and strategies include:

  • Health and Wellbeing Strategy
  • Children and Families Act 2014
  • Equalities Act 2014
  • Autism Strategy
  • Carers Strategy
  • JSNA’s
  • Safeguarding Adults Board
  • Safeguarding Children’s Board
  • Working Together 2013
  • Surrey’s Corporate Parenting Strategy
  • Ofsted Improvement Plan
  • Children and Young People’s Strategy 2012–2017
  • Surrey Children and Young People’s Partnership Plan

Race Equality Foundation Report

The quality of the services provided is crucial. Research amongst primary care trusts by the Race Equality Foundation (2011) highlighted the following issues for consideration when developing a translating and interpreting service:

  • Timescales for finding interpreters, for example, the need for interpreters who can be booked in half an hour for telephone services, 24 hours for face-to-face services and less in emergency situations.
  • The need for sensitive and appropriate services in order to be effective. It was found that it was particularly important for providers to be trained specialists in relation to translating and interpreting services for mental health clients.
  • Concern about continued reliance on family and friends to provide interpreting services. The research showed that one southeast PCT found that using “formal interpreting can lead to misdiagnosis and abuse being missed”.
  • Concern over restricting the translating and interpreting service to one-off provision – “an excellent service was cut to allow for a one-off teleconference via an interpreter … which is inadequate for our needs in oncology”. This concern should be noted when considering services to support statutory duties such as child protection conferences.

Health and safety

In discharging its duties under Health and safety law, the contracting authority informs tenderers of the following risks under the contract.

Particular consideration will be needed in respect of:

  • children
  • people with a disability
  • elderly people
  • behaviour that might pose a challenge to services (violent, abusive or aggressive behaviours)
  • persons with limited understanding of the English language
  • persons with particular requirements due to their ethnic, religious or other background
  • domestic pets
  • residents/service users with supported living and other social care needs
  • any other medical, social, or other factor that may impact upon the service provision.

Children’s Services has the highest use of the interpreting service contract.

Departmental overview

Service breakdown of fulfilled requests by department between September 2014 to September 2015:

Children’s Services – 1171

Adult Social Care – 135

Schools and Learning – 2

Language request overview between September 2014 to September 2015


Kurdish (Sorani)3%

Language Empire has been commissioned to provide the following services:

  • face-to-face interpreting from one community language to another
  • telephone interpreting from one community language to another
  • British Sign Language and non-spoken interpreting
  • translation of written materials from one language to another.

The aim of this service is:

  1. To assist staff to communicate with people with specific communication needs including:
  • people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • disabled people (including people with sensory impairments, people with learning disabilities and those who are deaf and deafblind)
  • families/children and young people working with social care
  • people with mental health issues.
  1. b) To enable the service user, including members of the general public, carers, and their families to:
  • have equal access to the local services and information
  • have their needs identified and met
  • participate in and contribute to the services they receive.

Service availability and access

The overriding approach is that of an appropriate quality provision that recognises the needs of individuals and the translation and interpretation required. Interpreting services must be available 24 hours a day, 365/6 days per year.

Officers should be able to access services via a single contact number to make face-to-face interpreting bookings, access telephone interpreting services, discuss translation projects and raise queries with a customer service representative.

Officers should be provided with a facility to make and verify face-to-face and BSL interpreting bookings securely online at their own convenience, which, as a minimum, is expected to select the most appropriate means of translation subject to a specified set of details such as time/location (if applicable)/languages/length/nature of requirement/etc. and produce a guaranteed booking or availability within a set time frame (time frame to be confirmed) This facility should be available online, with a 24/7 telephone contact mechanism also available.

The provider is required to adhere to the requirements of the Equalities Act, and to ensure that any cultural practices are respected, in relation to protected characteristics, including, but not limited to LGBT, gender, culture and other applicable factors.

Interpreter and translator selection criteria

Language Empire is required to have a robust internal and auditable process for selecting face-to-face and telephone interpreters incorporating specific verification of:

  • any external qualifications
  • previous experience
  • language proficiency
  • interpreting skills
  • legal translations.

BSL interpreters must be registered Sign Language Interpreters with the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD).

The provider must have a robust process for selecting translators incorporating:

  • verification of relevant qualifications
  • verification of previous experience
  • testing of translation ability
  • monitoring of translation competence.

Language Empire is required to demonstrate a procedure to ensure interpreters and translators are aware of their obligations in terms of professional standards, confidentiality, impartiality, accuracy, safeguarding, conflict of interest, non-delegation and only accepting assignments for which they are suitably qualified and experienced, which will be the responsibility of the provider to verify through selection and recruitment.

The following items should be verified for all interpreters and translators:

  • proof of identity
  • eligibility to work
  • employment history/references
  • professional memberships/qualifications (where appropriate).

As interpreters may be required to have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults, they should be subject to enhanced criminal records screening (for example an enhanced DBS check), and adhere to the requirements of the Council’s policies, as well as any Code of Conduct they may be bound by as a provider.

Language Empire is required to demonstrate a facility to manage and maintain interpreter records in terms of employment documentation, eligibility to work, qualifications, registration with industry bodies and security clearance status.

Language availability and sourcing

Language Empire is required to demonstrate how they will ensure that interpreters and translators are available in all languages required by the authority. More information on the languages required are indicated in the supporting information, however the requirement may be for any language at any time. Language Empire is required to have robust procedures to enable them to monitor changes in language demand and react quickly. Language Empire is required to draw upon a range of recruitment sources in order to maintain fulfilment levels and a fair and equal recruitment process.

We are always looking to expand our database and recruit new interpreters to join our team. We are currently looking to recruit interpreters in all the above languages. If you would like to refer an interpreter, please send an email to us at: with the details of the friend you are referring and we will contact them to confirm their interest.


Language Empire is required to demonstrate practical processes for maintaining quality throughout the service, including:

  • internal and external monitoring/auditing processes
  • facility to analyse service delivery
  • the quality of interpreting and translation resources will be assured throughout the service
  • feedback procedures for customers and end users, and how feedback is used to implement improvements in the service
  • provision and use of management information reporting, including usage by language, times of demand, types of translation required, length of translation, complaints and any other relevant issues
  • complaints and escalation procedure
  • identifying improvement opportunities
  • identifying risks in safeguarding capacity, mitigating risks either by or to the translator or the recipient or their associated individuals, or other circumstances, including any potential conflict of interest.

Service levels

Language Empire should be able to offer the following service levels:

  • 99% of all face-to-face and BSL interpreting assignments must be fulfilled by the supplier
  • 98% of all telephone interpreting requests must be fulfilled by the supplier
  • 98%+ of all translation projects should be delivered within agreed timescales
  • services should be available 99%+ of the time.

Wellbeing and prevention

The promotion and maintaining of a person’s wellbeing is now enshrined in law. This means that as a commissioner, the Council must always consider and have regard for the wellbeing of individuals and the collective population.

As well as meeting the individual’s wellbeing outcomes, Language Empire will contribute to the prevention/reduction/delay of a person’s needs. Arrangements to review the service user’s service schedules, and the reporting of changes to circumstances, will provide useful intelligence for the Council to assist with preventative support measures.

Person-centred, person-led processes

Central to the wellbeing principle is the ethos that the individual is best placed to make decisions about their care and support, and that a person-centred system takes into account the individual’s views, wishes and beliefs. Engagement with the service user and their participation in the assessment and planning processes is key. These processes have been fundamentally changed to be holistic in their approach and more comprehensive to build a fuller picture of a person’s care and support needs. Equally important is the service user’s dialogue with the provider about how their care and support is delivered to meet their chosen outcomes.


Independence, choice and control are key themes of the Care Act, which aims to complete the mainstreaming of personalisation and stimulate the proliferation of choice of services to meet different needs (and/or meet those needs differently). The vehicle for individuals exercising this choice is the use of personal budgets, which for the first time is placed in primary legislation, meaning that from April 2015 every client has been using a personal budget (or managed personal budget).

Language Empire will therefore need to operate in a way that facilitates the use of personal budgets and direct payments for service users arranging their own care and support. Furthermore, the provider will need to be flexible and adaptable in how it tailors its service to meet individual needs and to support people to live the life they want.

Ashley Medical Centre
Applewood Children’s Home
Burbank Children’s Home
Cheyne Walk Children’s Home
East Surrey Hospital
Elmbridge Borough Council
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
Epsom & St Helier University Hospital
Faircroft Children’s Home
Farnham Hospital
Frimley Park
Guildford Borough Council
Holland Close Children’s Home
Karibu Children’s Home
Libertas Children’s Home
Mole Valley District Council
Pathways To Independence
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
Royal Surrey County Hospital
Runnymede Civic Centre
Ruth House Children’s Home
Spelthorne Borough Council
St Peter’s Hospital
Surrey County Council Fairmount House
Surrey County Council Quadrant Court
Surrey County Council County Hall
Surrey County Council Consort House
Surrey Heath Borough Council
Tandridge District Council
The Shaw Family Centre
The St Francis Centre
Waverley Borough Council
Woking Borough Council
Woodlands Children’s Home

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

The provider must be able to arrange for an interpreter when interviewing suspects or witnesses in the course of their investigation who have difficulty in speaking and understanding English. The Codes of Practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) give guidance to the police and other enforcement officers and in particular Code C 13.

The Crown Prosecution Guidelines for interviewing suspects and witnesses under caution require the use of interpreters from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI).

It is absolutely essential that a suspect or witness understands everything that is discussed during the interview. The interpreters use must be well trained to a very high standard.

There may be occasions where the Courts provide their own translators, and you will be expected to identify these circumstances and ensure that “double booking” does not occur.

As part of the process, the interpreter may be asked for a summary of any direct conversations he or she has with the suspect or witness. We will respect the interpreter’s expertise and judgement.


There will be a requirement for safeguarding in the provision of these services. Expectations will be around identification and prompt reporting of any circumstances where there may be risk to, or from, either the translator or service user, including that of potential familial abuse, domestic violence, controlling behaviours or other behaviours and circumstances where there may be risk.

The Care Act

The specification has been developed with the Care Act 2014 in mind and seeks to ensure that the principles and objectives of the Care Act are embedded in the design of the Homecare service. The aspects of the Care Act outlined below are especially relevant to this specification and are reflected in the sections to which they relate.

Quality standards and safeguarding

In response to the Francis Report, the Care Act introduces a range of measures to drive up quality in care. These include strengthening of commissioning approaches, quality standards and the Council being given a market-shaping role to drive the continued improvement of services within the local area. This specification addresses quality throughout, and particular sections about the provider’s workforce development and staff conduct meet Care Act requirements.

Safeguarding of adults has also been strengthened by the Care Act. New arrangements and procedures aim to increase the detection of abuse and ensure that robust action is taken. The provider will have an active role in contributing to the local safeguarding of vulnerable adults and is duty-bound to cooperate in safeguarding activities to the standard set out in statutory guidance.

Child Protection Plans and Child Protection Conference

This information sheet explains:

What is a Child Protection Plan and what is a Child Protection Conference?

What is a Child Protection Plan?

A Child Protection Plan is made when a child is judged to be at risk of significant harm, significant harm being a level of harm that affects the health, welfare and development of a child. The Plan will say what the specific risks are to the child and the actions that will be needed to keep the child safe.

The Child Protection Plan is made following a conference (a meeting called a Child Protection Conference), to which all of the people who are involved with the child, including the parents, are invited. It is the task of the conference to decide whether there are significant risks to a child, what those risks are, and what is needed to be done to reduce or remove those risks.

The Plan will then be put into action and reviewed at regular intervals by a further conference. When the risks to the child have been assessed as having been eliminated or reduced, then the conference will decide to close the Child Protection Plan and any further help will be provided by the usual child care services.

All social services departments throughout Great Britain have a duty to make Child Protection Plans for children who are at risk of significant harm. When a child has a Child Protection Plan, the sort of risk will be described using one of these categories:

  • neglect
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse.

Are Child Protection Plans confidential?

Yes. The names of the children who are the subject of Child Protection Plans are never made public.

The Child Protection Plan is recorded on the child’s individual case file and can only be seen by a professional person who is allowed to have access to that record.

Personal information is only given out to professionals who have been given responsibility for a child’s welfare. They are only allowed details of the child or family they are concerned with.

What Happens when a child has a Child Protection Plan?

The social worker and other professionals will work to carry out the action plan and the child’s situation will be looked at regularly during further Child Protection Conferences or review meetings. Both will include all individuals involved in the Plan, except in rare instances. The first review conference will take place within three months of the initial conference. If the conference agrees that a child is no longer at significant risk of harm it may consider closing the Child Protection Plan, and instead provide help and support through the usual services. This decision will be made by the conference chairperson after taking into account the recommendations of the representatives from social services, health authorities, police, education and others who have specific responsibility for reviewing the work that has taken place.

What Is A Child Protection Conference?

The duty of those involved in child protection work is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children about whom we have concerns. It is very important that we make the right decisions about a child’s needs, and your help and involvement is vital.

Before we have a Child Protection Conference, an investigation (called a Section 47 investigation) will have been carried out to find out if it is necessary to hold a conference. As part of this investigation, there will be a meeting with a social worker who will have talked about why the authorities are concerned. A Child Protection Conference is held when agencies believe that a child may be at risk of significant harm.

The social worker will be responsible for preparing a report for the conference setting out the concerns and what is going well for the child. The report will also include the views of the children about what has happened to them.

Who can come to the Conference?

It is very important that parents are able to attend conferences about their children and are able to participate in the discussion. Someone from the social services department, the health authorities and the police are always invited to conferences. This is also true across the country. Doctor, health visitor and the child’s teacher may also be there to help make the right decisions.

What happens at a Child Protection Conference?

The conference will:

  • clarify why the meeting has been called and share information
  • identify what needs to happen in order for the risks to the child to be reduced
  • decide what are the most important reasons why the child is at risk of significant harm
  • decide on the actions that are needed to make the child safe.

What happens after a Conference?

The aim of a child protection conference is to look at the risks to a child within the home situation and the role of their parents in keeping them safe. Most children who have a Child Protection Plan stay living at home with a plan of support from professionals and other family members. It doesn’t happen often, but if the conference thinks it is too risky for a child to stay at home it will recommend that the child be cared for outside of the home. This could be either by extended family members or by the social services department taking legal action in order to place the child in the care of the local authority.

The Department for Education has developed statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children – Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children (July, 2014).

Local authority responsibilities 

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 set out local authorities’ duties with regard to providing for looked after children and care leavers who are eligible children. The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 likewise set out duties regarding care leavers who are relevant or former relevant children. These regulations were amended in 2014 to require that those duties are fulfilled with particular regard to the child’s circumstances and needs as unaccompanied or trafficked children. The Children Act 1989 requires that local authorities perform their duties under these regulations for all children, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation.

Local authorities should ensure that they have processes in place to monitor their policies and performance relating to both unaccompanied children and to trafficked children. They should ensure that responsible managers look beyond this guidance to understand the risks and issues facing unaccompanied and trafficked children and to review best practice in planning for the care of these children.

A close multi-agency approach is essential in protecting trafficked children from further risk from their traffickers. In particular, there should be a clear understanding between the local authority and the police, of roles in planning for this protection and responding if a trafficked child goes missing. Local Safeguarding Children Boards should play a central role in providing oversight of local multi-agency arrangements.

For unaccompanied asylum seeking children and for children trafficked into the UK, a number of possible immigration outcomes may be involved depending on the individual case.

The needs of both unaccompanied and trafficked children may require specialist support. This may be best provided by voluntary organisations.

When is a child a victim of human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the movement, abuse and exploitation of women, men and children for gain. It involves the movement of individuals across international borders as well as within internal borders, by force, coercion or deception (except in the case of children) with a view to exploiting them. The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking in Human Beings (Article 4) defines relevant terms relating to trafficking as follows:

  1. “trafficking in human beings” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
  2. the consent of a victim of “trafficking in human beings” to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
  3. the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in human beings” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
  4. “child” shall mean any person under 18 years of age.

Many children falling under the definitions above will be trafficked into the UK from overseas. They may be accompanied by an adult or unaccompanied on their arrival into the UK. Children may also be trafficked within the UK, for example, for the purposes of sexual exploitation. While this group might not face difficulties specifically associated with being trafficked from overseas – in relation to culture, language, or immigration status, for example – they do share other needs, particularly with regards to their protection from the risk of further trafficking. This guidance applies equally to all trafficked children who are looked after by a local authority, whether they have been trafficked into the UK from overseas or within the UK.

In accordance with the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the UK has a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for identifying and recording victims of trafficking and ensuring that they receive appropriate support wherever they are in the UK (though the NRM does not itself provide that support). In cases where a child displays indicators that they may have been trafficked, whether from overseas or within the UK, social workers or other front-line professionals should refer the case to the relevant competent authority by sending the child NRM referral form to the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).

Assessment of whether a child is being exploited or is at risk of exploitation, including where there is reason to believe a child has been trafficked, is a child protection decision. Child protection and care planning should be enacted accordingly depending on the outcome of that decision. Not all children trafficked within the UK will become looked after children and it will not always be appropriate to bring care proceedings. This guidance applies only to those that become looked after children.

Age determination

Many unaccompanied and trafficked children arrive in the UK without documentation or with fake documents. Where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that the person is a child, that person is presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection in accordance with Article 10(3) of the European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Where an age assessment is required, local authorities must adhere to standards established within case law. Age assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children.


The assessment conducted as the first step in the care planning process must be made with reference to the child’s needs as an unaccompanied or trafficked child. This means that particular account must be taken through the assessment of any specific needs the child has, for example, because of their experiences in their country of origin (such as experience of conflict), their journey to the UK, abuse at the hands of traffickers or exploitation as a consequence of being trafficked.

Where a child has been trafficked, the assessment should be carried out immediately as the opportunity to intervene is very narrow. Many trafficked children go missing from care, often within the first 48 hours. Provision may need to be made for the child to be in a safe place before any assessment takes place and for the possibility that they may not be able to disclose full information about their circumstances immediately. The location of the child should not be divulged to any enquirers until their identity and relationship with the child has been established, if necessary, with the help of police and immigration services.

Local authorities should prioritise unaccompanied and trafficked children to provide the best likelihood that they will receive continuity of care and be able to build a sustained relationship with their social worker. This continuity should begin, where possible, from the child’s assessment and be promoted throughout their time in care. Trafficked children might not initially recognise that they are victims of a crime. They may have been told that the authorities will try to put them in prison, or have been passed from one unknown adult to another. They need to know they can trust their social worker, and others involved in their care, and that they will be able to rely on support from allocated workers over time.

The assessment should ascertain any particular psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied or trafficked child. These experiences can be severe and traumatic. They should be noted, along with any consequent need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them. As for any child, the assessment should also cover the child’s needs in relation to their health, disability, education, religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background.

No assumptions should be made about the child’s language skills. Where interpreters are required, they should be appropriately trained to understand the particular issues the child may face. In particular, “trafficking” as a concept may not translate literally or easily, and may need to be expressed in a different way to ensure the child fully comprehends their situation. Care should be taken and appropriate checks made to ensure that the interpreter is not linked in any way with those who may have been involved in their trafficking or exploitation.

The assessment should establish that the child fully understands their situation and how they will be supported. This includes ensuring they understand the risks they may face, particularly from traffickers. An assessment of their continued vulnerability to the influence or control of their traffickers and the risks of them going missing from care should be recorded and kept under review.

The assessment should also establish whether the child knows where they are (for example, children trafficked from overseas may have been told by their traffickers that they are in a country other than the UK). For unaccompanied children and children trafficked from overseas, the assessment should understand the child’s reasons for coming to the UK. The roles of those involved in their care should be explained. In particular, where border and immigration officials are involved, it should be made clear that they have a separate role from those who provide for their care.

The local authority’s duties to looked after children under the Children Act 1989 apply equally to unaccompanied or trafficked children who are looked after. This includes the duties to return a looked after child to their family, and to promote contact between the child and their parents. Planning for permanence should therefore include consideration of reunification with the child’s birth family.

In deciding whether it is appropriate to initiate contact with an unaccompanied child’s family, child protection considerations will be paramount. The child’s family may have been involved in trafficking, exploiting or subjecting the child to child-specific forms of persecution such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage or involvement in armed conflict. The wishes and feelings of the child will be important in establishing the steps to take when undertaking family tracing.

Regulation 6 of the Asylum Seekers (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2005 places a positive duty on the Secretary of State for the Home Department to endeavour to trace the members of a child’s family as soon as possible after they make their claim for asylum, while ensuring those enquires are conducted in a way that does not jeopardise the safety of the child or their family. The Home Office will liaise with the authority where and when they believe it is appropriate to initiate tracing efforts beyond the collection of information from the child and UK governmental records. Children should always be informed, if family tracing is being undertaken or commissioned on their behalf.

Unaccompanied and trafficked children may have experienced or witnessed extreme trauma which is difficult for them to recount. Throughout the child’s assessment, steps should be taken to minimise distress caused by asking children to repeat information they may already have provided, for example, to border officials, police or social care staff assessing their child safeguarding needs. Care must be taken to ensure that the child does not become lost between the agencies involved and their different systems and procedures. This can be achieved through establishing clear processes for multi-agency working and transfer of all relevant information.

Further information on this can be found on the following link:

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is the sexual abuse of a child or young person aged under 18 by an adult who involves them in inappropriate sexual activities either with themselves or another person. The activity often takes place in exchange for money, alcohol, drugs, food, accommodation or presents such as clothing or mobile phones, and victims can be targeted in person or online.

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition. For example, being persuaded to post images on the internet or using mobile phones.

A common feature of CSE is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Victims are often targeted because they are already vulnerable in some other way.

Perpetrators of sexual exploitation are found in all parts of the country and are not restricted to particular ethnic groups

The following procedure has been created to provide a multi-agency response to children and young people who are missing or have gone missing from home and care.

Going missing is a dangerous activity and a child or young person who goes missing just once faces the same immediate risks as those who regularly go missing. However, children who go missing when they are young (and/or more frequently) are more likely to face longer-term problems.

Research has shown that every year approximately 10,000 children go missing from care. “Report from the Joint Inquiry into Children who go Missing” APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for LAC and Care Leavers (DoE, 2012).

The immediate risks associated with going missing include:

  • no means of support or legitimate income – leading to high risk activities
  • involvement in criminal activities, including becoming a victim of crime
  • becoming a victim of abuse
  • alcohol/substance misuse
  • deterioration of physical and mental health
  • missing out on schooling and education
  • increased vulnerability
  • sexual exploitation.

Longer-term risks include:

  • long-term drug dependency/alcohol dependency
  • criminal activity
  • homelessness
  • disengagement from education/training
  • poor physical and/or mental health.

Some children/young people absent themselves from home or care for a short period and then return. Often their whereabouts are known or may be quickly established through contact with family or friends, or are unknown but the children/young people are not considered at risk. Any situation where a child or young person is deemed “absent” must be carefully monitored as they may subsequently be escalated to “missing” if the risk changes and/or they do not return when expected. This period of absence must be kept under review and if s/he has not returned within 6 hours serious consideration must be given to reporting the child/young person to the Police to jointly manage the risk. The Police may continue to deal with this as absent or escalate to missing.

Further information on children missing from care and home can be found on the following link:

WordTranslated word
Emotional abuse




Physical abuse


Sexual abuse


Common assessment framework


Core assessment


Family assessment


Framework for assessment


Initial assessment


Special assessment




Foster carer




Health visitor


Key worker




Minutes taker








School liaison officer


Social worker




Speech therapist




Team manager


                Other key words
Alleged offences




Child protection


Child protection conference


Child protection review conference


Child protection plan


Child protection register


Children’s social care


Child welfare


Core group


Criminal investigation






Emergency Protection Order


Home environment




Legal action


Long-term needs


Organisational procedures


Police protection powers












Third parties




Unaccompanied asylum seeking child






Meaning in EnglishTranslated word
Local authority
Sure Start
Absent“A person not at a place where they are expected or required to be.” 
Care leaverAn eligible, relevant or former relevant child as defined by the Children Act 1989.
ChildAnyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. “Children” therefore means “children and young people under the age of 18” throughout this guidance. Note that, where the person’s age is in doubt, they must be treated as a child unless, and until, a full age assessment shows the person to be an adult.
Looked after childA child who is looked after by a local authority by reason of a care order, or being accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
Missing person“Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character, or the context suggests the person may be a subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another.”
Trafficked childA child who is a victim, or for whom there is reason to believe they may be a victim, of trafficking in human beings within the meaning of victim in the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking in Human Beings.
Unaccompanied asylum seeking childA child who is applying for asylum in their own right and is separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who, in law or by custom, has responsibility to do so. “Unaccompanied child” is used with the same meaning throughout the guidance for brevity.

As an interpreter working for Language Empire, you will often attend appointments for children and young people. It is very important that you are aware of the differences in approach with this group of people in comparison to working with adults and how to spot any safeguarding concerns, what to do and who to report these to if you do.

Having safeguarding procedures and policies in place within an organisation not only promotes the welfare of children and vulnerable adults, but also enhances the confidence of the clients, staff, parents and carers we work with.

This guide has been created in order to assist and support you in your role of interpreting for children and young people and can be a source of reference if you require clarification.

Legal framework guidance

There are a number of laws and statutory provisions that apply with regard to safeguarding and the protection of children from harm. This document has been produced in accordance with and regards to the below legislation:

The Children Act 1989 – This introduced the concept of “significant harm” as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children. It places a duty on local authorities and those working with a local authority to make enquiries to decide whether they should take action to safeguard or promote the welfare of a child who is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

The Laming Inquiry 2003 – After the death of Victoria Climbié, this inquiry highlighted the poor levels of communication between different agencies who were working with the child and her family and how they failed to follow simple procedures of reporting. As a result of this inquiry, new procedures were developed to improve the way different agencies work together and how they are responsible for the welfare of children they are in contact with.

The Bichard Inquiry 2003 – This was launched after the death of two school girls in Soham. It highlighted the need for security and vetting of all those who come into contact with children as it was questioned how Ian Huntley, who was convicted of their murder, was able to work in a school.

Confidentiality and sharing of information

Personal information about children and families, which is held by different organisations, is subject to a legal duty of confidence and should not normally be disclosed without the consent of that person. However, the law permits the disclosure of confidential information necessary to safeguard a child or children in the public interest. This relates to information regarding:

  • adults who may pose a risk to a child
  • children who may be the subject of abuse
  • information may also be shared where, not to do so, would put other staff at risk.

For any additional support or guidance on confidentiality you can contact Language Empire, who will be able to assist and advise you.

Language Empire’s responsibilities

Language Empire will abide by the specific child protection policies and procedures of each of our clients, will sign up to those policies and procedures and undertake training if required.

We will:

  • Promote the health and welfare of children by providing opportunities for them to safely take part in our activities.
  • Respect and promote the rights, wishes and feelings of children.
  • Promote and implement appropriate procedures to safeguard the wellbeing of children and protect them from abuse.
  • Recruit, train, support and supervise our interpreters to adopt best practices of interpreting for children.
  • Recruit, train, support and supervise our interpreters to safeguard and protect children from abuse and to minimise risk to themselves.
  • Require our interpreters to adopt and abide by this Children and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and any accompanying procedures.
  • Respond to any allegations of misconduct or abuse of children in line with this policy as well as implementing, where appropriate, the relevant disciplinary and appeals procedures.
  • Review and evaluate this policy and its procedures on a regular basis.
  • Provide the interpreter with emotional support should they require this when dealing with a particularly difficult case regarding safeguarding.

Vetting and screening

It is Language Empire’s responsibility to ensure that all interpreters are adequately screened and vetted to make sure they are safe to work with children.

As a minimum requirement, all interpreters must have a valid DBS certificate before they can attend an interpreting assignment with Language Empire.

If you are awaiting a DBS check you will not be able to deliver any services directly to children until the check has proven to be satisfactory.

Training and development

In order for you to keep up-to-date with current practices and any new legislation, we actively encourage you to undergo regular training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) sessions with Language Empire. This is important so that you are delivering the best service you can.

You will be enrolled on an online e-learning course with Language Empire upon induction, and regular refresher training will be provided covering topics such as:

  • Safeguarding of Children Level 1 and 2
  • Data Protection
  • Information Sharing and Confidentiality.

You will be provided with resources to assist you in interpreting for children, such as this one.

Your roles and responsibilities

The welfare of a child is the responsibility of everyone who comes into contact with them. As an interpreter you have certain responsibilities in relation to your actions towards their safety and welfare and in the way in which you interpret for them.

You are required to:

  • show your ID at all appointments
  • work in collaboration with professionals
  • be familiar with local child protection procedures and any local procedures in your area
  • be able to recognise indicators that a child’s welfare or safety may be at risk and know how to act upon them
  • alert the relevant people to anything that you are concerned about during the assignment; for example, if you feel a child is being abused or neglected
  • intervene in situations where you feel that a cultural/religious practice is being mistaken or identified as harmful
  • treat the child’s parents or carers with respect no matter what situation you are in
  • respect the roles of all staff you are working with
  • if a child discloses to you any information of abuse or safeguarding issues, you must raise these right away with the professional, and the child must be told this information will be shared with the professional.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is the term given to the act of the protection of children by different organisations and authorities. Across the UK, many children can be at risk of harm, abuse, or hurt, regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity.

The safeguarding legislation has been put into place in order to protect children from abuse. Safeguarding means making sure a person is safe from abuse and neglect, and is able to be independent and make their own choices.

Safeguarding covers:

  • protection from maltreatment
  • prevention of impairment of health and development
  • ensuring children receive the correct care that they require
  • taking action in order to ensure a child can have the best outcome.

How do I spot abuse/safeguarding Issues?

When working with a child or vulnerable adult you may be able to spot some signs of abuse. Signs to look out for include:

  • significant changes in their behaviour
  • deterioration in their general wellbeing
  • their comments that may give cause for concern, or the things they say (direct or indirect disclosure)
  • changes in their appearance, their behaviour, or their play (if a child)
  • unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse or neglect
  • you may see something – an incident or an injury or other sign
  • the vulnerable adult or child may tell you or say something that worries you
  • you may not know; it is enough that you are worried.

Examples of child abuse

Abuse comes in many different forms and can be actioned by many different people – those close to a child or someone the child does not know. All abuse results in behaviour towards the child that deliberately or unintentionally causes harm or hurt. It is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights. For example:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • neglect and acts of omission
  • discriminatory abuse.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is any hurt or injury to a child’s physical being. This includes any intentional or unwanted contact towards them or to any part of their body. Examples of physical abuse can include:

  • hitting, slapping, kicking, shaking or punching
  • non-accidental actions causing injuries, such as bruising, lacerations or welts, burns, fractures or dislocations
  • physical restraint
  • force feeding
  • misuse of medication by either giving too much medication or giving medication that hasn’t been prescribed
  • inappropriate withholding of medication
  • pulling arms, hair or ears etc.
  • bending back fingers or bending an arm up behind the back etc.
  • throwing
  • beating with objects
  • suffocating
  • being left in clothing or bedding that has been soiled
  • scalding, burning, scratching or biting etc.
  • spitting at
  • forcing a child to eat something that hurts them or makes them feel ill.

Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is the act of mentally abusing a child. It does not include any physical actions like harming a child’s body. Emotional or psychological abuse is where another person will say and do things in order to upset a person emotionally. Sometimes a person may not realise they are abusing their victim. However, when they do, it makes a mark on their victim’s psychological wellbeing rather than causing any physical harm. It is not always obvious that this type of abuse is going on because there are no visible scars or injuries etc. Emotional abuse is often carried out by somebody close to the victim, however, this can be carried out by somebody who does not know the victim at all.

Emotional or psychological abuse can be caused through the following acts:

  • intimidation by words or actions
  • humiliation
  • harassment
  • enforced social isolation
  • forcing a child to eat food they don’t want to eat
  • discrimination
  • blaming
  • controlling
  • threatening
  • name calling
  • making a child feel worthless
  • forcing a child to watch distressing things
  • ignoring or deliberately leaving a child out of an activity.


Discrimination is the act of treating someone unfairly or less favourably because of their colour, race, gender, sexual orientation, relationship status or disability, etc.

Examples of discrimination abuse include:

  • a cold, dismissive or intolerant attitude by a parent, carer or other significant person
  • exclusion from rights and services
  • failure to respect cultural and religious needs
  • lack of respect shown to individual
  • failure to respect dietary needs
  • signs of a substandard service offered to an individual
  • lack of insight or understanding of a person’s needs or behaviour.

Neglect or deprivation

This is when people who are supposed to help a child do not look after them properly. Here are some examples of neglect or deprivation:

  • inadequate care
  • failing to recognise or acknowledge non-verbal messages conveyed by children who have no/limited communication abilities
  • failure to report concerns
  • not ensuring that a child has access to regular medical support including assessments for medication blood levels, blood pressure, diet and nutrition or access to regular health screening tests
  • neglect of physical and emotional needs
  • deprivation of food, clothing, medical attention or aids
  • denial of basic right to make informed choices
  • failure to provide access to appropriate social, health or educational services
  • leaving the child alone in a vehicle for extended periods.

Sexual abuse

  • any unwanted physical and sexual contact
  • intercourse with a child who lacks the capability to consent
  • rape and assault
  • sexual harassment and assault
  • displaying pornographic literature or videos of that child
  • encouraging a child, who lacks capacity, to behave in a sexually inappropriate or provocative way, for example, dressing provocatively, soliciting.

Responding to concerns

If a child displays signs of abuse and you are not satisfied that those signs can readily be explained away, these concerns need to be passed on so that a proper investigation can take place. As an interpreter, you are constantly being told to remain impartial and to refrain from expressing your opinion but when there’s an issue regarding a child’s wellbeing, you have a duty of care to discuss these with the professional. However, it is only your duty to report any concerns, you must not act on these or carry out your own investigations as this is not your role to do so.

What to do if you suspect abuse:

  1. Keep calm.
  2. Don’t jump to conclusions or make accusations; there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation.
  3. Listen and observe.
  4. Remember you are an interpreter, not a detective.
  5. Don’t ask the non-English speaker any questions.
  6. Report any concerns you have at the end of the assignment to the professional.

Who should you pass those concerns on to?

If you have concerns about the welfare of a child during or after your interpreting assignment you should make the professional conducting the session, or a responsible member of staff within the service, aware of those concerns. They will have the appropriate links to local social services and the police and can involve the necessary people quickly. You should pass any concerns on to the link person who will discuss them with the service’s child/vulnerable adults protection officer and instigate the necessary investigation. They may already be aware of protection issues with the child or family. Because of the need to preserve confidentiality, they may not report back to you on how the issue is being pursued. You should also let the director or a manager at Language Empire know that you have raised a child protection issue.

How can you protect yourself from allegations of child abuse?

There are very simple precautions that you can take to avoid putting yourself in compromising positions, including:

  • Never be alone with a child during an appointment. If the professional leaves the appointment room, appropriate provisions should be made so you are not left alone with the child.
  • Do not encourage dependence. If a particular child becomes overly attached to you, ensure that this is addressed with the professional, and consider using another interpreter.
  • Avoid any physical activity which is, or may be thought to be, sexually stimulating to you or the child.
  • Do not give out personal details such as home address or phone numbers.
  • Never take children and their families to your home.
  • Never provide transport to the child after the appointment.
  • Do not do things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
  • Do not form intimate emotional or physical relationships with children.
  • Do not allow or engage in touching a child in a sexually suggestive manner.
  • Do not make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.

Interpreting practice for working with children

When interpreting for children, there are a number of considerations that must be made, which may not necessarily apply when interpreting for adults.

A child may not disclose all information to you as you are a stranger to them, or if they feel uncomfortable because they do not know you. With this in mind, you must try to make the child feel as comfortable as possible to achieve a good result from the interpreting session.

Managing and being aware of your own interpersonal skills will have an impact upon the way a child responds to you as an interpreter. For example, your:

  • listening skills
  • body language
  • tone of voice used etc.
  • self-control.

You should:

  • be welcoming and relaxed
  • respond in a sensitive manner
  • speak in a childlike manner so they understand
  • be very patient, they may take longer to process information and respond to you
  • bring yourself to their height level
  • keep your speech steady and clear so it is easily understandable to a child
  • be conscious of how the child responds to you and make adjustments to your interpreting style as necessary to keep the interaction moving
  • understand the child’s limitations and respect their capabilities
  • always advise the professional of anything you may feel will help or hinder the interpreting with a child and use your experience to assist this process.

If the professional is using complicated words that the child may not understand you may need to inform them of this so the speech can be simplified.

You may be required to repeat yourself a lot more than you would when interpreting for an adult. You may be required to use more breaks, as the information is harder to process for a child.

There may be times during an appointment that become very distressing for the child, their families and possibly for yourself. It is important to remain as professional as possible and take your time if this does occur. Support will always be provided to you should you require this.


Language Empire always encourages you to prepare for your assignment. You must be aware of the type of appointment you are attending from the details on your job sheet, and have your terminology prepared.

Before the assignment, it is good practice to receive a briefing from the professional. This way it will allow you to have an understanding of the appointment and prepare yourself for what is to happen. Particularly when working with children, you may need to know about previous information from other appointments in order to assist you with the delivery of the session.

Models of interpreting for children

It is important you still follow the linguistic model of interpreting when working with children, as the messages the professionals want to convey must remain impartial and objective.

You are never to add or omit information even if you feel this may distress the child, this is the decision of the professional. You must not ask leading questions or stray from what the professional has said.

If a particular subject is very distressing, the conversation may need to be changed for a moment to make the child feel at ease again and then focus back on the subject at hand. In these cases, this will be instructed by the professional.

You may not be able to be as professional with a child as you would with an adult, sometimes their concentration may waver, and in this case you will need to bring that back.

Cultural sensitivities

When working with children it is important to consider how cultural sensitivities can impact upon your interpreting session.

It is important to remember that if a child has recently come from their home country to the UK, there will be certain practices they may not be familiar with such as:

  • welfare support system
  • educational system.

Children may also not have come into contact with people of other races and religions, which can be new to them if they are of a young age, and dependent upon the country they are from.

It is important to consider all of these factors that could impact upon the result of a session with a child and to be mindful of these.

You can provide support to the professional as a cultural broker. You can offer advice if they are happy to accept this and alert them of any cultural misunderstandings that could impact upon the session.

Appointment scenarios

Some possible scenarios you may be faced with when working with children are as follows:

  • the removal of a child from their parents
  • an assessment of a child’s welfare
  • protection plans being implemented
  • educational reviews
  • GP/hospital appointments
  • dental appointments
  • court cases
  • police investigations
  • contact centres CAFCAS.

Further guidance

For further support and guidance on safeguarding, the following resources can be accessed:

  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (HMG, 2006 – under revision 2012)
  • What to Do if You’re Worried a Child is Being Abused (HMG, 2006)
  • Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DoH, 2000)
  • The Common Assessment Framework for Children and Young People: A guide for practitioners (CWDC, 2010)
  • Statutory guidance on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 (HMG, 2007)
  • Information Sharing: Guidance for practitioners and managers (HMG, 2006; 2008)

Independent Safeguarding Authority:

Community interpreters must:

  • Maintain confidentiality at all costs.
  • Discuss a case only with the staff directly involved, as appropriate, not with friends in other departments, relatives or anyone else.
  • Remain totally If there is even the perception of bias, excuse yourself and get someone else to do the job (if your client turns out to be your best friend’s daughter, she won’t want you to interpret what may get back to her mother).
  • Interpret everything faithfully and accurately to convey the content and spirit of what is being said, and do it in the speaker’s register.
  • Monitor yourself. If you find you made a mistake, go back and correct it.
  • Always use the first and second person (Do you…? I do…), never the third person (he says, she says that…).

Community interpreters should:

  • Interpret everything that is said. (When a client says, “Oh, please don’t tell anyone this but…,” is ethically unacceptable). The session starts when the interpreter is in the presence of the client and/or the provider, whether in a triadic situation, in a waiting room before a session or upon leaving the building or area. Interpreters may not keep secrets from providers or clients.
  • Pursue ongoing education and training – new terminology of all kinds, new medical technology, new idioms, new cultures, new dialects, etc. – forever! Things are changing very quickly and interpreters must keep up.
  • Inform the provider and the client if a word was used that you do not know, or if you did not understand something. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Inform the provider and client if they are giving you too much information at one time, thus making it difficult for you to interpret it accurately and completely. Ask that shorter sentences be used, or less jargon, or fewer acronyms, or whatever.
  • Settle any differences with staff members, providers and clients in a professional and appropriate manner. Don’t get into petty arguments and don’t lose your temper.
  • Refrain from actions that will discredit the interpreter profession.
  • Show respect for all involved, addressing them in a professional and usually formal manner.
  • Share professional knowledge with colleagues to improve the profession and your work.
  • Explain cultural differences or practices to providers and/or clients when appropriate.
  • Ask for and insist upon working conditions that will enable you to perform with efficiency and dignity (respect, fatigue, etc.).
  • Keep ties with relevant professional organisations.
  • Establish a pre-session mini-conference with the provider (if at all possible) and with the client. Explain your role, explain how the interview will function, and explain cultural differences when appropriate. Prepare a little one-minute speech on how things will work, one in English for the provider and one in your other language for the client.
  • Not take on assignments that violate your personal or religious beliefs. You cannot stop interpreting in the middle of a session just because you don’t like the turn the conversation has taken. If you go against your personal and religious beliefs, your interpretation will almost certainly be biased.
  • Not be critical of other interpreters to providers or make disparaging remarks about providers to clients.


Community interpreters:

  • May not accept tips, gratuities or gifts from clients (gifts of food can be shared with the whole office). You need to explain to clients that you are not allowed to receive gifts from anyone related to your work.
  • May not use your employer’s internet connection for your personal needs or entertainment.
  • May not recommend a friend or someone you know if the client asks for a referral to a doctor, lawyer, or nurse. Help them look in the Yellow Pages for a health professional of their own choosing.
  • May not simplify or paraphrase, add or delete anything to what is said; do not give clarifying explanations.
  • May, of course, make suggestions to contact other public service agencies if the client requests that help.
  • Must not accept assignments for which you know you are unqualified or insufficiently prepared (whether for language reasons or due to the complexity of the subject matter).
  • Must never give medical advice (no herbal teas, no aspirin, no health foods or herbs, no “healers”, no referrals). To do so is considered “practising medicine without a license” in this country, and you could be prosecuted in a court of law (and some already have!).

The answer to this question is a definitive yes but it takes time, education, effort and dedication to ensure you stand out from the crowd. It’s not just about having the right academic qualifications. There are qualities that good interpreters possess that set them apart from others who have perhaps not understood the role and its responsibilities as well as they should have.

These skills include:

  • excellent knowledge of both languages
  • superb listening skills
  • accuracy and precision
  • knowledge of transference.

Your job as an interpreter is to convey the meaning of what is being said so the listener receives the message just as accurately as if they understood the language being spoken. For example, if the speaker uses slang, vulgar, academic or informal language then so must you.

In order to achieve this, you need excellent listening skills, especially in cases where there is no direct interpretation. Some languages are rare or have limited diffusion and contain phrases or terms that simply do not translate into English. Equally, there are plenty of English idioms that can’t be interpreted literally into a foreign language without sounding like nonsense. Honing your listening and understanding skills will help you to provide an accurate interpretation in such circumstances.

To be an excellent interpreter you need to develop your ability to offer more than just a verbatim interpretation of a conversation. You have a duty to ensure that what an English speaker says is accurately interpreted using equivalent words and phrases in the other language and vice versa with a non-English speaker. Both parties need to be treated equally and what you are striving for is interpretation, which is as accurate as if each party spoke the other’s language.

This is a skill you will foster over time as you become more experienced in interpretation.

Benefits and rewards

It pays to develop your skills and become an excellent interpreter because not only will it lead to further work, it can provide fulfilment and job satisfaction. You probably still remember how nice it was to be praised at school for doing something well, to feel that little burst of pride in your chest for being recognised and having achieved something. As a working adult you may not jump up and down with excitement in the same way as a young child, but receiving praise for a job well done is a brilliant motivator and confidence booster!

If you work hard to develop your skills as an interpreter and you do a good job, service providers will remember you and they will book you for work again. Not only that, they are far more likely to recommend you to others. In short, the more your interpreting qualities develop and you gain experience and recognition, the more your career as an interpreter will progress.

One last thing, don’t forget about asking for feedback. In order to improve, it is vital to continually assess your performance and look at ways you can make it even better. Excellent feedback from a nurse or police officer can make you feel great and boost your confidence no end, but equally, constructive criticism will help you spot any areas that could be improved upon and allow you to address them.

What does an interpreter need to offer a high quality service?

Interpreters should:

  • Undertake regular training courses to ensure continuous professional development and make sure they remain up-to-date on changes to the languages they speak and the countries that speak those languages.
  • Always remain impartial, keep their interpreting neutral and not take sides.
  • Ensure they don’t offer their own opinion and their interpreting is accurate.
  • Act efficiently at all times by responding quickly to any service provider communications, attending all bookings and being punctual.
  • Should have a thorough knowledge of their code of practice and work to those guidelines at all times.
  • Act professionally by dressing appropriately, turning off mobiles during an interpretation session, wearing an ID badge, being respectful to all service users, and by informing all service users about the interpreting code of practice at the start of each session.

How an interpreter should behave at a session to provide a high quality service

The list below is a handy at-a-glance guide to how you should act during an interpreting session to maintain a professional and first-rate interpreting service. An excellent interpreter:

  1. remains neutral
  2. always stays calm
  3. concentrates on accurate and appropriate interpreting
  4. is objective
  5. is friendly but not a friend
  6. knows their code of practice and follows it
  7. is willing to explain cultural differences.

Strong interpreting skills:

  • Being able to explain the role of the interpreter to patient and provider
  • recognising the complexity of the clinical encounter and added factor of linguistic barrier
  • being able to set the tone of the patient/provider encounter to manage spatial configuration and flow of communication to preserve accuracy and completeness, and to assess and address potential areas of discomfort for patient (age, gender of interpreter, no previous experience with interpreters)
  • being able to encourage and foster direct communication between provider and patient
  • maintaining a professional distance and integrity
  • being able to diffuse conflict between parties by remaining calm and impartial
  • being confident at clarifying instructions and following up steps in a diplomatic, effective manner.

Get into the habit of promoting high quality interpretation

Aristotle is quoted as saying: “Quality is not an act. It is a habit”. In order for you to provide a consistently high service as an interpreter, you need to develop certain habits and adhere to them at all times. It may be hard at first because you are not used to it, but as with any habit, it develops over time and before you know it, it will become second nature. The list below is not exhaustive but gives you a good idea of the habits you should seek to cultivate during your interpreting career:

  • You must not take sides and you must remain entirely independent.
  • You are not legally trained so do not offer legal advice. Any legal questions should be referred to a solicitor or officer.
  • Keep your personal opinion to yourself. Never offer it, even if asked to do so.
  • All information you hear is confidential and should not be disclosed to third parties.
  • You should never make false interpretations. Any interpreting mistakes should be brought to the attention of both parties as soon as they are known to you.
  • Don’t enter into conversation with either party other than in the course of interpreting.
  • You’re not an immigration officer, nurse, counsellor or court official so never try to carry out their duties.
  • You can intervene to clarify any misunderstandings. Don’t apologise, just be concise and express the point succinctly.
  • Use the first person when interpreting, not the third person. You interpret exactly what the parties are saying and how they express it. However, if you need to intervene to clarify something use the third person.
  • You can write down names, key words, dates and so on, anything that will aid accurate interpretation.
  • Be confident and self-assured.
  • Language Empire is required to be available in emergency situations and must be able to accommodate same day and next day bookings where possible. This means that as an interpreter, you may be required in an emergency situation.
  • You are required to treat all information received in the course of your duties as confidential, unless required by law to disclose information.
  • You are required to arrive 15 minutes early to every assignment and in exceptional circumstances must telephone Language Empire if any lateness is anticipated. We will then contact the client to inform them of this.
  • When interpreting or translating, you are required to interpret/translate everything that is said or written using the Linguistic Model of Interpreting/Translating. You must not change, leave out or add any information which is conveyed. This model should be followed at all times.
  • You should always remain impartial and unbiased when on an interpreting assignment, never expressing your own opinions.
  • You must not intervene in the interview unless clarifying an issue or misunderstanding.
  • You are obliged to seek clarification on words or phrases that you do not understand.

NRCPD Code of Conduct

BSL interpreters are required to follow the Code of Conduct that has been set out by the NRCPD. A signed copy will also be kept on file.

NRPSI Code of Conduct

All spoken language interpreters are also required to read and understand the NRPSI’s Code of Conduct as this will help them to understand the requirements of an interpreting assignment.

Lone Working Policy

Lone Working Policy will allow you to identify any risks of working alone, entering people’s houses for home visits and what to do should an incident occur that puts you at risk.

Whistleblowing Policy

The training on our Whistleblowing Policy will include, who to report to and how to identify any wrongdoing that can cause detrimental effects or negative impact upon Language Empire or Surrey County Council organisations.


You are required to adhere to our Confidentiality and Data Protection Policy and internal policies when working on behalf of Language Empire. A signed copy is kept on file.

Anything that is said within the interpreting assignment must not be repeated outside of the meeting. You should not discuss patient names, identity, addresses or identifiable information with anyone that was not included in the appointment. Any breach of this will result in suspension and a full investigation, where we may terminate your employment with Language Empire.

You are, however, allowed to disclose information to the professional at the venue if you fear that the safety of an individual could be seriously threatened, for example, child protection, mental health, abuse. If the issue is regarding the professional, then you should report this to Language Empire as soon as possible, who will then bring it to the attention of the organisation’s contract manager. In these cases, records should be kept by yourself until an agreement is reached for their disposal.

Legal and Policy Framework

Language Empire’s services comply with all current and future legislation including:

  • Equality Act 2014
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • The Children Act 1989
  • The Mental Health Act 1983
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Equality Act 2010
  • National Service Framework 2011
  • Working Together 2013
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Code of Practice.

You will be assigned an interpreting assignment based upon the level of criteria that the booking requires. Only those interpreters who meet the experience and qualifications required to carry out the interpreting assignment will be booked. For example, only interpreters with mental health experience will be assigned to an appointment within a mental health setting.

We will also assess you on your qualifications, that is, DPSI or Community Interpreting. We select the level of interpreter required according to the complexity of the situation.

We also ensure that upon being assigned, you do not have any other interpreting assignments for a few hours ahead, to ensure that you are able to stay for the full expected duration of the assignment.

This will also include who could attend the soonest and who would be the most suitable interpreter, for example, gender and suitability are considered.

There is also consideration of the users’ cultural and gender requirements. It is imperative that service users are treated with respect and made to feel comfortable in their appointments, which is why we do our best to provide appropriate interpreters for each assignment to meet the individual needs of each service user.

You are then sent a job sheet, along with supporting information, for example, mental health information. This job sheet details all the relevant information you require in order to complete this assignment. Confirmation of the date, time and venue will be provided alongside any other information provided by the professional.

Interpreters are provided with sector specific information and specialised terminologies from our research department, including specialised vocabulary knowledge, in terms of processes to minimise the possibility of any conflict that could be attributable to gender, nationality, ethnicity, social and cultural background.

You are expected to return this job sheet to us by the specified date and time printed on the bottom of this form in order for us to register your attendance and therefore provide payment.

In order to manage and monitor the performance of all our freelance interpreters, Language Empire regularly conducts a number of assessments and briefings.

Competency assessments

These are completed during the induction period to assess interpreter capability and experience, including a specialist screening for specific requirements, for example, mental health etc. These will be conducted over the phone and arranged with you at a convenient time.


Language Empire will conduct quality control briefings for new interpreters and those with little experience of working with Language Empire. In addition, we will conduct ongoing quality control briefings at various intervals for interpreters of varying competency levels, for example, advanced level interpreters receive a verbal quality control briefing every 25th booking, and every 15th for intermediate level interpreters. The purpose of these briefings is to ensure you understand your requirements of interpreting for Language Empire and Surrey County Council. These briefings also provide you with the opportunity to ask questions and develop your skills further based upon the feedback you receive.

Our quality control briefing covers: confidentiality, breach of confidentiality, interpreting models, impartiality, job sheet, professional code of conduct, customer service policy, sector specific interpreting, nature of the booking, preparation, travel arrangements, Language Empire ID card, before the assignment, during the assignment, at the end of the assignment.

Interpreter feedback

We regularly ask our clients to provide feedback on the level of service you are delivering. This enables us to monitor your performance and raise any training issues with you as a result.

Quick feedback

This will be attained from the professional during every assignment. They will complete this form from your job sheet. This is returned to us and updated on your profile against that assignment. Punctuality, dress code and satisfaction are all assessed through this quick feedback.

Interpreter quality check
Forms are sent directly to the client when they receive confirmation of your attendance. They are encouraged to complete this more detailed form which asks questions surrounding your professionalism and customer care.

Quality monitoring visits
will be conducted at random intervals whilst you are interpreting. These are conducted by a staff member from Language Empire, where we assess your levels of interpreting, professionalism, conduct, and overall customer care and performance through observation.

These different methods of supervision are geared towards helping interpreters become more competent, and we hope it will provide support and added value to your development.

DNA’S (Did not attend)
If an interpreter fails to attend an assignment they have agreed to do, then it will be automatically logged onto their interpreter profile. A member of our linguistic team will then conduct a full investigation as to the reasons behind DNA, and if the reason is not valid or sufficient, Interpreters will be fined accordingly. A review into an interpreter’s contract will also be conducted, to ensure a DNA does not occur again. This can lead to the termination of an interpreter’s contract.

all lateness’s are monitored again by our linguistic department and are acted upon accordingly. Lateness’s without a valid reason will carry a fine. Persistent lateness will result in a termination to the interpreter’s contract with Language Empire.

Negative Feedback
Any negative feedback received will be investigation in full by the Linguistic department at Language Empire. Depending on the nature of the negative feedback, it could lead to a termination of the interpreter’s contract with Language Empire.

please refer to the rates of pay agreement when cancelling a booking.

In order to provide a high quality service to our clients, Language Empire have put in place a number of policies and procedures that must be followed by all freelancers. As part of your training and induction with Language Empire for work with SCC, you will be required to undertake and understand:

  • Language Empire Interpreter Induction and Orientation Training
  • Language Empire Code of Conduct Training
  • Language Empire Lone Working Procedure Training
  • Language Empire Whistleblowing Procedure Training
  • Language Empire Equality and Diversity Policy
  • NRCPD Code of Conduct
  • Safeguarding Training of Vulnerable Adults and Children
  • Online Child Protection Training
  • Confidentiality Training
  • Legal and Policy Framework, compliance to current legislations
  • Other Important Policy and Procedure Training.

We will make all our training materials and policies available for you to view online, on our dedicated linguist hub for interpreters accessed via:

In order to meet the requirements of Surrey County Council (SCC) policies and procedures, we have modified and developed our training materials accordingly. Equality and Diversity training will be offered to ensure all freelance linguists treat the people they come into contact with fairly and with respect.

All interpreters working with SCC are required to undertake Safeguarding Training of Vulnerable Adults and Children. You are required to adhere to SCC’s Safeguarding Procedures and provide services in line with both the Local Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB) and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB).

Further information regarding Safeguarding Children and Child Protection can be found in safeguarding and child protection booklets provided.

You are required to complete an online Child Protection Training course, which will include, teaching you the tools to identify child abuse and what actions to take should this happen. It will also teach knowledge and recognition of signs and indicators of abuse and how to refer this to the designated person. There is a requirement for all interpreters working with children and young people to undertake this training – social care visits/assessments of vulnerable children addressing needs, which can be very sensitive and could lead to volatile situations, for example, child protection issues.

Language Empire aims to provide a high quality service to SCC, placing great emphasis on support and training to our interpreters ensuring there is no compromise in the delivery of services. We believe that continuous professional development starts with the induction and training we provide to new interpreters, where we encourage all interpreters and translators to actively seek ways to further their development, and we will support this in any way that we can. Language Empire frequently advises interpreters of courses within their area, which can be attended in order to help you achieve this.

To ensure that standards and contract compliance are maintained, you must update your CPD skills on a regular basis. Quarterly checks are made by our Interpreter Performance Manager for all freelancers. Language Empire provides an extensive in‐house training programme to ensure all interpreters are kept fully informed and trained in both legislative and cultural demographic requirements of SCC. This allows you to update your skills and competencies as an interpreter and will in turn allow Language Empire to assign more work to you.

These training sessions can include; Sector Specific Training, Safeguarding and Sensitive Issues, Equal Opportunities and Human Rights, Dealing with Difficult Situations, How to Interpret in an Empathetic way, amongst a variety of others. All linguists who are offered a place on the approved list will be required to complete online CPD certified courses that are relevant to everyday interpreting assignments, prior to undertaking any assignments. The courses are:

  • Safeguarding Children level 1
  • Safeguarding Children level 2
  • Safeguarding Adults level 1
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Health and Safety
  • Risk Assessments
  • Information Governance (Security/Data protection Act/Freedom of Information Act)
  • Managing Conflict (children’s workforce)
  • Information Sharing and Consent
  • Safeguarding Children with Disabilities
  • Cultural Awareness in Safeguarding, Integrated Working
  • Multi-Agency Working, Deprivation of Liberty
  • Care Act – Introduction and Overview and Care Act
  • Safeguarding Duties and Responsibilities.


  • Bookings
  • Job sheets
  • Follow-up appointments
  • All other enquiries.

Tel: 0330 20 20 350



  • Linguist performance management
  • Quality control
  • Penalties/investigations in relation to DNAs, lateness, complaints
  • Training and development

Tel: 0330 20 20 349



  • Interpreter referrals
  • Sending us your documents
  • Applying for a DBS
  • Language Empire ID card
  • Details on interpreting courses.

Tel: 0330 20 20 344

Send your registration documents/essentials via email:

New interpreters can send their CV via email:


  • Payment requests/queries/issues

All payment related enquiries must be put in writing via email to ensure an audit trail for both parties and quick resolution in resolving any payment related queries. This is because you might speak to a member of staff in the bookings team with which you liaise on a daily basis, and they may forget to log or pass on your message. Furthermore, there might not be an audit trail and not all calls are recorded.