The DPI qualification: a candidate's perspective

By Laura Pistininzi MCIL, DPI, CL, RPSI

I have been a member of CIOL since 2013, with Italian as my native language, and English and German as working languages.

I hold an Italian MA Degree in Conference Interpreting and, in September 2019, I obtained my Diploma in Police Interpreting (DPI) for Italian. I have been working as a professional conference interpreter and translator since 2009, gaining experience in a number of fields, mainly engineering and technology.

My translation and interpreting activities have always gone hand in hand, and I always welcome any assignments which arouse my curiosity and desire to expand my knowledge. This was what drew me to sit the DPI exam as this allowed me to learn more about criminal law in the UK, aware that the Italian and English legal systems are completely different from each other. In addition, I was keen to obtain a qualification that is recognised by public authorities in the UK.

Divided into five units, the DPI is articulated in three oral and two written sessions, with consecutive interpreting during a role-played interview between a police officer and a suspect plus taking a statement, sight translation, and simultaneous interpreting on one hand, and two written translations on the other. Timings are very strict and your professional behaviour and composure are also being tested.

I embraced the exam as a new challenge, and my preparation included attending a six-month course, self-studying the criminal justice system, and extensive use of past papers found on the CIOL website. My experience as an interpreter and translator came in useful to prepare me mentally to sit the exam, with all the difficulties it could entail. However it was only after thoroughly studying the English legal system that I felt better trained, in particular for the oral units where quick-thinking is essential.

On a broader perspective, when you face an interpreting assignment, the first thing you would want to know is what the topic of the assignment will be, but when taking the DPI, you don’t know the topic until the moment you sit the exam – and this is why preparation and broad knowledge of the legal system are essential if you are to succeed in this exam.

I was the recipient of the NRPSI Award as Best DPI Candidate at the 2019 CIOL Awards, and this meant the world to me! This has motivated me even more to sit the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) Law exam this year.

Both the DPI and the DPSI exams share some equivalencies, so I will need to sit only three units of the DPSI instead of all five. Also, the DPI allowed me to register with NRPSI (the National Register of Public Service Interpreters) here in the UK under Interim status A.

As a professional interpreter and translator, I can only benefit from these qualifications, as they are key to my profession, alongside education and continuing professional development courses.