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Transnational Organised Crime and Translation (TOCAT) Project

Transnational Organised Crime and Translation (TOCAT) project

PPL academics Jo Drugan and Alexandria Innes have won one of eleven awards under the joint ESRC/AHRC Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research theme, worth a total of £100K over 18 months. Along with two co-investigators at Leuven University, Belgium, they will work with the police and translation providers to understand and face up to increasingly important challenges relating to communication across languages.

Modern societies are more diverse than ever- more than 300 languages are spoken in the UK today. This increased diversity has had a major impact for the police. Officers now have to investigate and combat organised crime networks whose members communicate across multiple languages. Police therefore increasingly rely on translation to be able to investigate serious crimes such as people trafficking and child sexual exploitation. This involves significant challenges, including cost, number of languages, quality and the limited supply of qualified linguists.

The main questions we will be asking are:

1. How can police work more effectively to understand and fight transnational organised crime such as people trafficking when it is conducted across different languages? In particular, how should police work with translators when victims, witnesses or suspects don't speak the same language as investigators?

2. Is a planned new police approach effective in practice, and, where it is not, what can be done to enhance it?

3. What are the experiences of frontline workers (police officers, support workers, translators) when they face these new challenges, and can they help us develop a better overall understanding of transnational organised crime?

The project contributes to an impact case study on translation quality for the next REF. Research findings will be communicated to a wide range of translation users and providers, through publications, policy briefings and an international conference for translators, interpretors, police and researchers to be held at the College of Policing headquarters at the end of the project.