Aggressive bailiffs are set to face renewed scrutiny under new plans to end intimidating practices and better protect vulnerable people.
- Government moves to end bad practice for good
- Families and vulnerable people to be better protected from aggressive tactics
- Public urged to speak up about experiences and provide views on bailiff behaviour
Sweeping Government reforms in 2014 significantly curtailed bailiffs’ powers, as well as improving transparency and ensuring those with outstanding debts knew their rights.
Having listened to concerns from charities, debt advice organisations and others, the Government has today launched a Call for Evidence to seek views on what more should be done to protect the public.
Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said:
“The majority of bailiffs work within the law, but it is clear some are making lives a misery and ruining the industry’s reputation.”
“My message to those individuals is clear – there is absolutely no excuse for aggressive tactics and such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
“We will not hesitate to take action, so we’re asking the public to share their experiences to help rid our society of rogue bailiffs for good.”
Vulnerable individuals, families, and other victims of unacceptable bailiff behaviour will be asked about tougher protections, including the option of an independent regulator.
The Call for Evidence will allow all those with an interest – including charities and other stakeholders – to speak out on the impact of earlier reforms and on how best to end underhand tactics.
In detail, the Government is seeking views on:
- Ensuring compliance with earlier curbs on bailiff powers;
- The recognition and treatment of vulnerable people when collecting debt;
- The complaints process;
- The current fee structure and how this is working to incentivise early payments; and
- Suitability of current bailiff regulation and the possibility of an independent regulator.
The collection of debt is necessary for both the economy and the justice system, and bailiffs must be able to carry out their job safely and effectively. But Ministers are clear they must act professionally and with respect. Where poor behaviour takes place, the Government will not hesitate to take action.
The Call for Evidence sits alongside wider government initiatives to support vulnerable debtors, for example the ‘Breathing Space’ scheme. It will run for 12 weeks, and responses will be analysed to inform next steps.