Driving tests in foreign languages to be banned to stop learners cheating

If you are thinking of taking driving lessons in Bedford, this information will be important to you if English is not your first language.

  • More than a 1,000 licences have been  scrapped since 2009 due to fraud
  • Taxpayers have footed bill to tune of  £250,000 a year

Learner drivers are to be banned from taking  road tests in a foreign language to crack down on fraud and boost  safety.

From early next year candidates will no  longer be able to use prerecorded foreign language voice-overs – which are used  to read out questions – or interpreters in theory and practical  tests.

The decision by Transport Secretary Patrick  McLoughlin follows a spate of fraud convictions involving ‘back seat’  interpreters who help their clients cheat by using the foreign language to give  covert coaching.

Open to abuse: Taxpayers have been slapped with a £250,000 bill for people to learn to drive in a foreign language - but the system attracts fraudsters (stock image)
Open to abuse: Taxpayers have been slapped with a  £250,000 bill for people to learn to drive in a foreign language – but the  system attracts fraudsters.
 

Ministers say allowing tests to be taken only  in English or Welsh will also enhance ‘social cohesion and integration’ and cut  costs.

Whitehall sources said the fraud scandal was  ‘yet another problem the last Labour government failed to tackle’.

In 2007, Labour transport minister Jim  Fitzpatrick said of the interpreting scheme: ‘This system works well and we have  no evidence to suggest that it is being abused.’

Interpreters are known to indicate the correct answers to theory test questions, allowing fledgling drivers to cheat
 
Interpreters are known to indicate the correct answers  to theory test questions, allowing fledgling drivers to cheat

 

But since 2009 around 1,000 licences have  been revoked due to fraud during tests.

Learners whose first language is not English  or Welsh can currently request voice-overs in 19 languages for the  computer-based theory test. Ministers say the service costs taxpayers £250,000 a  year.

Where voice-overs are not available,  candidates may use an interpreter.

Mr McLoughlin said requiring all tests to be  in English or Welsh would ‘help ensure that all new drivers will be able to  understand traffic updates or emergency information when they pass’. 

He added: ‘It will also help us to reduce the  risk of fraud by stopping interpreters from indicating the correct answers to  theory test questions.’

Revamp: Ministers now want tests to be taken only in English or Welsh
Revamp: Ministers now want tests to be taken only in  English or Welsh

 

By  Ray Massey Daily Mail

PUBLISHED: 01:21, 5 October  2013 |  UPDATED: 11:52,  5 October 2013

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