The Ministry of Justice has announced a crackdown on the intimidating and aggressive behaviour of some private enforcement agents, commonly known as bailiffs, who prey on the most-at-risk.
While they acknowledge that the majority act professionally and already voluntarily wear body-worn cameras, the government will now make it a legal requirement to ensure all bailiffs are held accountable for their behaviour and make it easier for complaints to be investigated.
The courts will also be given a broader range of sanctioning powers, such as fines and training requirements, to punish high court enforcement agents who act inappropriately.
It comes as the government has also provided its backing to the Enforcement Conduct Board – a new independent oversight body that aims to hold the debt enforcement sector to account, drive up standards, and establish a clear set of guidelines for best practice.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
“We’re determined to protect vulnerable households which includes ensuring they’re not harassed by rogue bailiffs. While the majority of bailiffs act above board, body-worn cameras will make sure those who abuse their powers can be held to account.”
A review of the fees bailiffs can recover will also be launched in due course. It will ensure these are set at an appropriate level and consider whether more can be done to encourage debts to be settled without the upset and alarm that can be caused by a visit to a person’s home.