Wales

Driving test candidates must sit exam in English or Welsh

Allyson Ng
Image caption Allyson Ng pleaded guilty to conspiring the defraud the Driving Standards Agency

All driving test candidates will have to sit the written theory exam in either English or Welsh after a ban on foreign languages by the UK government.

The change follows the case of a woman who was jailed at Cardiff Crown Court after she gave dozens of candidates the answers in Mandarin.

Driving licences were stripped from 94 people after Allyson Ng sold answers to the written test.

Ng, from Bristol, was jailed for a year in August for fraud.

Cardiff Crown Court heard she told candidates when to say "yes" on multiple choice questions in the theory section of the driving test.

Since 2009 she had interpreted on 123 theory tests and while the majority of the fraudulent tests were in Cardiff, a small number were in Birmingham.

Risk of fraud

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he wanted all drivers to have the skills to use roads safely and it would also help reduce the risk of fraud by interpreters.

At present, candidates who do not speak English or Welsh can ask for pre-recorded voiceovers for theory tests in 19 foreign languages or use interpreters for both parts of the exam.

But from April the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will scrap foreign language help. It said that was backed by most of the 2,000 people who replied to its consultation.

Many also said foreign language speakers may not understand road signs or be able to speak to traffic officers.

Ng admitted to conspiring to defraud the DSA, the arm of the Department of Transport in charge of driving tests.

She was arrested at the Cardiff theory test centre in October 2012.

Ng charged £110 a time for translation and the agency said it became suspicious after a surge in her customer numbers in the second half of 2011.

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