WELSH police forces have spent more than £2m on language translators since the start of the Millennium.
Figures released to Wales on Sunday reveal the police have been forced to spend increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money on interpreters for obscure languages such as Sylheti, Tongan and Berber*.
But the true figure is likely to be much higher as the nation’s largest force – South Wales Police – could only provide figures for the past two years.
David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, slammed the costs as a waste of money.
“As soon as you arrest people who speak perfectly good English they clam up at a moment’s notice,” said Mr Davies, who is also a special constable.
“It’s just yet another cost of mass immigration.
“It’s ridiculous for the Government to say immigration has been good from an economic point of view when they have not been able to add up the costs – and translation is one of them.
“It’s a huge cost and a large part of the police budget when they should be putting police out on the beat.
“Some are coming from Eastern Europe and causing immense problems and demanding translation as soon as they are arrested.”
He insisted his comments were not racist, pointing out that Britain’s highest-ranking black policeman, Kent Chief Constable Mike Fuller, warned last month his force was struggling to cope with “migration surges”.
Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, also criticised the cost.
“At a time when every penny is sorely needed for frontline policing in the fight against crime, translation is a vast drain on budgets,” he said.
The only force able to provide a language-by-language breakdown was Gwent Police, whose figures showed that, in the past year alone, they spent almost £6,900 on Vietnamese translators, £6,850 on Arabic and £4,350 on Urdu.
But they also had to call in experts in other languages such as Lithuanian, Moldovan and Slovak.
One force said the numbers of new immigrants moving to its area had caused an increase in spending on translation services.
A spokeswoman for North Wales Police, which has spent £530,356 since 2000, said: “There’s a range of reasons why this figure is increasing.
“There’s an increase in the number of immigrants who are coming in over the years and they are both victims and offenders.”
Dyfed-Powys Police spent £482,470 and Gwent Police spent £358,061, while South Wales Police spent £737,000 in just two years.
According to UK Government figures, the cost of translating and interpreting for residents of Wales and England is increasing on a yearly basis and is conservatively estimated to cost at least £100m a year.
Police spend up to £21m on translation services across Wales and England, while local councils spend up to £25m. Meanwhile, the courts system spends more than £10m, not counting the cost of legal aid.
* In case you’re wondering, Sylheti is spoken in north-eastern Bangladesh and Berber in parts of Morocco and Algeria.