Where and when could the police use video interpreting?

This week I am attending the British Society of Criminology Annual conference, Forging Social Justice: Local challenges, Global complexities hosted by the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University.

I’ve come along to participate in some of the PHD workshops and focus on research topics that touch on police and policing. As you’ll see from this site my PhD is interested in looking at is using video mediated interpreting services (VMI) to facilitate interaction between Police Scotland and the various deaf communities in Scotland. Therefore, an important part of my research is linked to police work and doing research about the police. Familiarising myself with this field will prepare me in many ways to think about what kind of video interpreting interactions I’d like to analyse for my PhD.

For the past six months I have been finding out who are the police, what do we know about police work, how the police serve a diverse UK population and how do the police develop their professional practices to garner trust and legitimise their presences in modern day society. Coming to this conference is helping me reflect further on these points and on how I approach policing related research.

At the 2016 Scottish International Policing Conference in Edinburgh Phil Gormley (QPM), the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, explained how 80% of the force’s work is non-crime related. Police officers are in engaged in traffic control, search for missing people, anti-social behavior incidents, and assisting vulnerable people. Front line police officers are called upon to assist in unbelievable range of activities.

This range and breadth of activity is demonstrated in the Police 2026 strategy. In fact, recently Police Scotland invited the Scottish deaf communities to comment on their 2026 strategy by translating their content into BSL.  This consultation was carried out as part of Police Scotland’s engagement with the deaf communities (as described in the BSL (Scotland) Act).

For me, this webpage demonstrates the breath of work the police undertake and may give you some ideas to raise with me on where video interpreting can be used. For example do you think video interpreting could be used to

  • report an incident as a witness;
  • call for assistance;
  • report an incident and obtain a crime reference number (for insurance purposes);
  • make a statement (as a victim or witness), for example when a police officer comes to your home as part of a non-sensitive investigation;
  • facilitate a roadside interaction;
  • report a missing person;
  • report a hate crime;
  • report a domestic issue

I’d be interested to know where you think the technology can or can’t be used and why, or maybe you have actual experience of using a video interpreting service to reach the police? Get in touch if you’d like to share your thoughts or find out more about my research and participate – email ras3@hw.ac.uk.


About proxinterpreting

Robert Skinner is a qualified British Sign Language/English interpreter registered with the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD). After more than 20 years of experience as an interpreter, Robert’s areas of specialism include: broadcast media (BBC News), video remote interpreting (with SignVideo), psychology, language processing, applied linguistics, mental health, community and international development. In 2007 Robert began to develop his research experience at Birkbeck (University of London) during completion of a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics. For his thesis, Robert conducted a typological study of BSL number variation in the UK: What Counts? A Typological and Descriptive Analysis of BSL Number Variation. This research documented four distinct BSL number systems and several sub-categories and led to Robert's employment as a researcher & in-house interpreter at the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL), University College London. During his time at DCAL Robert worked closely with Gabriella Vigliocco’s lab on a series of signed language processing studies investigating the effects of iconicity (the imagistic properties of sign), for more information click here. As an interpreter at DCAL Robert worked alongside deaf academics in neurology (the Deaf Brain project), language development (the BSL McArthur Bates CDI), sign linguistics and the BSL Corpus Project. In 2009, whilst at DCAL, Robert completed an MSc in Research Methods in Experimental Psychology. For his thesis, Robert developed a phonological decision paradigm where participants were required to identify upward or downward movements within BSL production: We Have Lift Off: Iconic effects with Up/Down Motion. This study contributes to the embodied theory of language processing, having found a facilitation effect when the upward/downward movement itself was iconic. Between 2014 and 2016 Robert continued his work as a Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University. Here Robert contributed to three research projects: Insign, Justisigns and Translating the Deaf Self. Find Robert on Research Gate or Academia.
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1 Response to Where and when could the police use video interpreting?

  1. Pingback: Researcher Seeks Input on Video Interpreting of Police Encounters | TerpTheatre

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