Bailiffs: Enforcement of debt Contents

3Impact of the 2014 enforcement agent reforms introduced by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

Overarching views of the impact of the reforms

17.The Ministry of Justice carried out its own One Year review of the 2014 reforms, based on data analysis and gathering views from key stakeholders. The review findings were broadly positive:

All stakeholders agreed that the reforms have provided transparency and consistency in the enforcement process, where this was previously lacking […] By clarifying what was considered unacceptable enforcement behaviour and including advice sector contact details on enforcement letters, the reforms have provided greater transparency over debtor rights and how to complain.

18.However, the review went on to note that:

Data provided by the advice sector show that some debtors and debt advisors perceive that aggressive behaviour is still happening in practice, and while it is not realistic to expect this to have been eradicated altogether, the Ministry of Justice take the concerns expressed by the advice sector feedback seriously and will pay close attention to the level and nature of complaints as the reforms bed in further.17

19.The research for that report was carried out in 2015, one year after the reforms were brought in. We looked to see if the picture had changed by the beginning of 2019, nearly five years after the reforms were brought in.

20.Witnesses from the enforcement agent industry remained strongly supportive of the 2014 reforms, calling them “a great success”.18 They cited for example: increased clarity in what fees could be charged;19 the increase in settlement by contacting the debtor by phone or in writing before making a visit;20 and the introduction of training requirements for certification.21 Tracey Stone, director of a small enforcement company, told us: “[Before 2014] different authorities charged completely different things. For that purpose, the reforms brought in a lot of clarity. Having one charge made it a lot easier and reduced a lot of the complaints that came through.”22 Andrew Wilson, Chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, added: “We have found considerable improvement, mainly because of the greater transparency in the way the process works.”23

21.We also took some evidence from local authorities who use bailiffs to recover their debts. Again, the views were positive. David Platts, who is responsible for the collection of council tax and business rates at Stratford-on-Avon District Council, told us that he welcomed the reforms.24 Barrie Minney, founder of the Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum, added “I think it has been a success”.25

22.However, evidence from debt advice charities was much less positive. Joanna Elson from the Money Advice Trust told us that: “despite some improvements due to the 2014 reforms [such as clearer rules], our three charities [Money Advice Trust, StepChange, Citizens Advice] regularly see the regulations being contravened”,26 especially in the following areas: “bailiffs will not accept affordable repayment offers […] they seize goods inappropriately […] and they fail to take vulnerable circumstances into account.”27

23.Peter Tutton from StepChange debt charity agreed. He was concerned that the new regulations “made some things better, but they did not deal with the fundamental issues, which were control over the conduct of firms, the way the incentives in the industry work and properly dealing with the vulnerability of the people they were dealing with.”28 Joe Lane from Citizens Advice added: “The rules that were created in the 2014 reforms were a step in the right direction, but they are ineffective because they are not properly enforced.”29

Complaints

Numbers of complaints

24.It is difficult to obtain precise and reliable data about the number of times that regulations are contravened. This is because complainants are directed to a plethora of places, with no single ombudsman or regulator taking oversight of the complaints system.

25.The Government website .gov.uk30 states that “You should first complain to the company the bailiff works for or the people you owe money to. You may also be able to complain to the bailiff’s trade association”. It also provides a link to complain to a court if you are complaining about a civilian enforcement officer. The website does not mention the option of complaining to an ombudsman like the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, nor does it explain the sequence in which a complaint should be escalated. There is no mention of costs (in almost every case it is free to complain about a bailiff, except for certain court action).

26.The enforcement agents told us that all Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) members have a formal complaints procedure,31 and that these procedures are “very accessible” and “robust”.32 They told us that “it is very easy for people to make a complaint”33 and that the number of complaints received (especially justified complaints) was proportionately small (“exceptionally low”34). For example, Jacobs, an enforcement company currently working with 165 Local Authorities throughout England and Wales, told us that they processed 275,000 cases last year, and had only 373 complaints to either the Council or themselves; 24 complaints were partly and 24 fully justified.35 This is a strikingly low number.

27.Where a complainant is dissatisfied with the response from the enforcement agency, they may refer it upwards to one of the industry associations, of which there are “three operating within the sector, each with different procedures and priorities”:36 the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA), the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) and the Certificated Enforcement Agents Association (CEEA) (which represents individual enforcement agents rather than companies). These three associations all gave us evidence that they received only very small numbers of complaints:

a)CIVEA reported that “complaints levels are consistently low”;37 the Association received 249 complaints last year, of which they dealt with 130. Sixty of these were rejected and 45 resolved;38

b)HCEOA received “a tiny amount” of complaints: in 2016, the Association received 128 complaints, which represents 0.15% of the number of writs received. Most were referred back to the relevant High Court Enforcement Officer: four went forward to the HCEOA’s complaint board and were upheld (ie. the complainant was found to have a valid complaint);39 and

c)CEAA wrote that “it is only the advice sector that is stating that the complaints have increased. From companies and agents’ point of view complaints have actually reduced… there are only a few bad apples.”40

28.If the enforcement agent is employed by, or operating on behalf of, a local authority, the complainant may address their complaint to the relevant local authority. The local authority will then ask the enforcement agent for their evidence relating to the case, such as recordings of phone calls or videos of any visits.41 While we did not take detailed evidence from local authorities, the evidence which we did gain suggested that there had been a decrease in complaints to them about bailiffs since the 2014 reforms. The Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum conducted a straw poll of its 1,000 members, which suggested that “complaints [to local authorities about the actions of enforcement agents] were not increasing; in fact they have definitely gone down”.42 David Platts from Stratford-on-Avon District Council concurred, citing very small numbers of complaints to the District Council: “Over the previous five-year period, we had around 10,000 cases referred [to enforcement agents], of which there were 12 complaints [of which only one was upheld]”.43

29.If the complainant is still dissatisfied about the enforcement of a local authority debt such as Council Tax or parking, they may complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). The LGSCO has jurisdiction to investigate such complaints whether they relate to ‘in house’ bailiffs who are directly employed by local authorities or ‘contracted out’ bailiffs (as they are performing a local authority function).44 They are able to investigate whether there was a fault in the way the local authority used the enforcement agents, as well as whether there was fault in the actions of the agents themselves.45

30.Andrew Hobley from the LGSCO told us that “Pre and post reform, there was a drop in the number of complaints. It is not enormous, but what has changed is the number of upheld complaints that we have [which have gone down], particularly around the area of costs.”46

31.The LGSCO reported that, since the introduction of the reforms,47 they made 132 decisions involving enforcement action under the 2007 legislation which found fault in the actions of the local authority or their enforcement agents; in 27 percent of cases the enforcement agent was at fault. In the other cases, the local authority was at fault, rather than their agents.48 These are clearly very small numbers.

32.A final route to complain would be via court action. The court may rule to order goods to be returned, damages to be paid and/ or for an agent’s certificate to be suspended or cancelled. However, Citizens Advice note with concern that only 56 complaints have been registered through the courts in the last four years.49 They believe that this is due to the perceived cost and accessibility of making a complaint to court,50 describing it as an “intimidating prospect”.51 On the other hand, CIVEA argue that the complaints level is so low because “the rules are so prescriptive that you have to have a strong case that the rule has been breached”.52

33.We were struck by the massive discrepancy between the figures on complaints to bailiffs, industry associations, local authorities, LGSCO and the courts, compared with the figures quoted by debt advice charities. Citizens Advice, for example, claimed that 2.2 million people had been personally contacted by bailiffs in the last two years and that 39% of these- or 850,000 people - were seeing bailiffs break the rules.53 Examples included: telling people that they can break entry into their house when they did not have the right to do that, or threatening to take control of exempt goods (goods that belong to a third party or goods which are essential household items or things which people need for their trade).54 These would be clear causes for complaint.

34.We tried to get to the bottom of this. CIVEA told us that: “The cases that are recorded as complaints [are] often simply inquiries for advice and not defined complaints”. They added that, where complaints are made, these are “more often due to misunderstanding of the regulations than attributed to aggressive collection practices.”55 Carole Kenney, from Phoenix (a large company specialising in the enforcement and collection of local authority debt) suggested: “When debt advice agencies use the word complaints, I think they are referring to inquiries”.56 The High Court Enforcement Officers Association stated that “There is no doubt that the Advice Sector has received more enquiries (which are not necessarily complaints) from debtors since April 2014… [one reason for which is that] the prescribed forms under the Taking Control of Goods Procedure all carry details of the main Advice Sector charities, signposting judgment debtors to take advice.”57

35.We asked Citizens Advice directly about these claims:

Chair: Are you able in all these surveys to make a distinction between inquiries from people concerned about the system—’I have had a letter,’ or something like that—and a specific complaint about conduct and breach of rules?

Joe Lane (Citizens Advice): In each individual survey, we endeavour to do that. Obviously, as with any survey, there is always a margin of error. You aim to get your figures in the right ballpark; you are not doing it to the precise number.58

36.The Money Advice Trust explained that:

The high number of problems with bailiffs reported to debt advice agencies has not translated into a high number of formal complaints, which we would suggest is a systemic problem with complaints processes rather than a lack of grounds for complaint. Our clients in debt are very likely to be in vulnerable circumstances and dealing with many competing difficulties in their lives. They are not necessarily in the best place to make formal complaints, especially where there is no clear complaints mechanism or defined outcome.59

37.The three debt advice charities who gave oral evidence to us (Citizens Advice, StepChange and Money Advice Trust) were all confident that the evidence base was “very strong” that regulations were regularly being contravened and that there was a systematic problem with enforcement which urgently needed to be addressed.60 Citizens Advice told us that:

Bailiffs are used millions of times each year, and we [the debt advice sector] deal with tens of thousands of complaints about bailiff behaviour, but the process to hold bailiffs to account is completely inaccessible to the individuals affected.61

38.Complaints are important and must be investigated properly and learned from—they should be encouraged. But the existing complaints process is fragmented and hard to navigate. This is especially problematic given that debtors are more likely to be vulnerable and dealing with multiple difficulties in their lives, such as ill health or unemployment.

39.There is a gulf between the reports by debt advice charities about numbers of complaints and the reports by bailiff companies, industry associations and the LGSCO. While there may be many reasons for this, we conclude that a more clearly defined and independent complaints process would give important reassurance that all complaints will be fairly and properly investigated. It would also enable much greater transparency about real numbers of justified complaints.

A new complaints procedure

40.A coalition of 11 charities concerned with poverty and debt have argued strongly that there should be a free, transparent and accessible complaints procedure which would enable people in debt to complain about individual bailiffs or bailiff firms or both. They suggest that there should be two stages to this complaints procedure, with complaints made first to the firm concerned and then to an independent body if the complaint is not resolved at the first stage.62

41.CIVEA concurred:

there is a case for a new regulatory body to adjudicate on complaints cases. There are various complaints handling processes covering the different elements of enforcement, but there may be a requirement for a higher level of independence. CIVEA’s view is that it would be more effective for this to be an industry driven solution and a regulator would not necessarily make a good adjudicator.63

42.We also found other stakeholders in agreement, for example, the Certificated Enforcement Agents Association said that they would “welcome an independent complaints procedure providing it was fair on both [sides].”64

43.We recommend that there should be an independent complaints body, to which all complaints about bailiffs should be escalated if the complainant has exhausted local complaints procedures (ie. those of the organisation for which the bailiff was working). The complaints process should be very clearly set out, and have as few levels as possible so that it is easy to navigate.

44.The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman already plays an important role as the majority of work sent to bailiffs relates to local authority debt,65 and therefore falls under its jurisdiction.66

45.Witnesses told us how important the role of local authorities is in good enforcement. CIVEA told us that “while enforcement agent firms can have their own conversations, ultimately, they have to act on the instructions of the local authorities. The local authorities are their clients and they dictate the terms of engagement in everything they do, including repayment plans.”67

46.Importantly, the LGSCO can take a holistic approach to a complaint (ie disentangle whether the bailiff or the local authority, or both, is at fault). This is essential as witnesses told us that many complaints about enforcement agents also involved the actions of the creditor: for example, it is the local authority who will, under the terms of a service level agreement, provide the enforcement company with information about the case, decide what to do about cases relating to vulnerable debtors and determine what payment plans are acceptable.68 These are often the places where debt advice agencies told us the complaints lie.

47.The LGSCO told us:

It will be important that any future reform takes account of existing routes to redress including that there already is a clear route to the LGSCO for complaints about local authorities and the enforcement agents they use. Published figures suggest that at least 90 percent of cases passed to enforcement agents already fall within our jurisdiction. Our understanding is [in] most of the other cases, the enforcement agent is acting as an officer of the court. It is our view that to include the investigation of complaints about bailiffs within the role of an independent regulator risks complicating the route to redress for members of the public and creating confusion about who to approach when they have been let down.69

48.The LGSCO’s written evidence also draws attention to the draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill, published in December 2016 and awaiting pre-legislative scrutiny. This Bill would create a new Ombudsman for UK reserved matters and public services in England, which would cover complaints against central government and local authority creditors. The LGSCO told us that this body, in their view, “would cover the actions of the Courts Service—and so any enforcement agents employed by the court service”.70 This could bring all enforcement agents into scope of the new Ombudsmen, not just those civil enforcement agents enforcing local authority debts.

49.However, we do not know when or if this Public Service Ombudsman might start to operate. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said in April 2018 that:

the continuing uncertainty in progressing the Bill to introduce the Public Service Ombudsman has an adverse impact […] We, therefore, expect the Government to provide clarity about its intentions for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, and about the timetable to implement this new legislation to allow the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to plan with some confidence.”71

The Government response pointed to the pressures of Brexit on Parliamentary time, and stated that “the draft Bill will be brought forward as and when such Parliamentary time is available.”72 This was nearly one year ago.

50.We recommend that the MOJ should, when deciding where to site the independent complaints function, take full account of the existing role of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. It is particularly important as the Ombudsman has the ability to investigate how both the local authority and the enforcement agent acted, in order to ascertain where any fault may lie.

51.The MOJ must also take into account the opportunities afforded by the planned Public Service Ombudsman. However, we are concerned about the delay in introducing the legislation required to implement the Government proposals for this body. We add our voice to that of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in recommending that the Government should invite the House of Lords to join the House of Commons in setting up a joint committee to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill as soon as possible.

Regulation

52.The Certification of Enforcement Agents Regulations 2014 require individual civil enforcement agents to be certificated by a County Court, in order to be authorised to take control of goods anywhere in England and Wales. The judge must be satisfied that the applicant is a “fit and proper person” to hold a certificate, and that they “possess sufficient knowledge of the law and procedure relating to powers of enforcement by taking control of goods and of commercial rent arrears recovery to be competent to exercise those powers”. The certificate must be renewed every two years.

53.We heard that this “certification in the courts still leaves a lot to be desired” and that it was a “rubber-stamping exercise” with “no requirement for any CPD [Continuing Professional Development]”.73 John Kruse, an expert in bailiff law, told us:

Certification, with all due respect to county court judges and district judges, is not dedicated and it is not expert. Some district judges know about bailiff law. Most do not because there is no need for them ever to encounter it. At the same time, the regulation we have is very partial because it is solely regulation of an individual [ie the individual bailiff rather than the company which employs them].74

54.Peter Tutton, from StepChange, explained that the current system is effectively a licensing regime, in which individual bailiffs can have their certificate to practise taken away. He described this as “not very effective”.75 He argued that “unless you really get down to a regulator that has the powers and the tools to oversee and control conduct between firms and vulnerable people in financial difficulty, you will not achieve the aim of protecting people against excessive, disproportionate and harmful enforcement.”76

55.A coalition of 11 debt advice charities has argued strongly for a regulator.77 They point out that people who are contacted by bailiffs are more likely than average to be vulnerable. For example, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute states that 45% of people in problem debt are also experiencing a mental health problem, and so may find it harder to understand the information a bailiff is telling them and to decide on a course of action. The Institute concludes: “In this situation, it is not appropriate to expect a person to understand what a bailiff can and cannot do, and to enforce their own rights. This makes significant improvements to the regulation of bailiffs to improve behaviour and ensure people are treated fairly an absolute necessity.”78

56.Comparison was frequently drawn with other sectors. For example Stepchange said: “In a world where most sectors, such as water, energy and financial services, have introduced an independent watchdog to stand against bad practice and drive improvement of standards, the lack of accountability in the bailiff industry is a complete anomaly.”79 We noted that, where an enforcement agency also carries out debt collection, that part of its work is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

57.We heard general support from other witnesses, including from the enforcement industry.80 CIVEA told us that “in principle, yes, we are not against [regulation].”81 We heard that large enforcement companies such as Jacobs,82 Bristow & Sutor83 and Phoenix84 were open to or supportive of the idea, although there was a view that it should be designed with the enforcement sector.85 We did hear some notes of caution from the enforcement sector that the regulator might not add much,86 or that it would be hampered if it could not regulate the creditors (eg. the local authorities instructing the enforcement agents).87

58.There were a small number of exceptions, notably the Certificated Enforcement Agents Association, which represents individual agents (rather than companies). The CEAA disputed the claim the sector is not regulated or self-regulated, arguing “We are regulated by statute. Therefore we are answerable to the Courts and the Judges—What is self-regulatory about that? […] we don’t believe that there is a need for an independent regulator due to being regulated by the Courts”.88 The High Court Enforcement Officers Association did not support the proposal, suggesting that they were “neutral about a regulator”.89

59.We asked those in support what such a regulator should do. The most important purpose was seen to be to regulate the enforcement agent industry by licensing practitioners and sanctioning poor practice. Citizens Advice argued that this would involve moving away from individual certification by the courts, towards regulation of firms as well as individuals.90 There was also a strong view that the regulator would have a role in terms of “draw[ing] out some best practice and consistent approaches.”91 and “preventing problems before they occur [by producing guidance and requiring firms to have practices and policies]”.92 This might particularly focus on good practice in relation to vulnerable people, such as people with mental health problems or people with low levels of literacy.

60.We received mixed views on whether the regulator and the complaints ombudsman should be the same body; the predominant view was that they should be separate but that information should be shared between them. The LGSCO said “it is important that there is clarity about who is responsible for regulation and who is responsible for resolving complaints” and that there should be “clear processes in place for sharing information and intelligence.”93

61.We did not hear a clear preference for where this responsibility for regulation should be sited, whether in a new or an existing regulator. We heard some arguments for it being added to the remit of an existing regulator, such as the Financial Conduct Authority94 or the Security Industry Authority.95 Marston Holdings, the largest provider of enforcement services to both local and central government, suggested an alternative, in which the model of their existing independent Advisory Group (currently engaged on a voluntary basis) could be expanded to oversee member companies across the industry and deal with complaints.96

62.The difficult question is how the regulator should be funded. Various ideas suggested included: requiring bailiff companies to make a contribution97 (although this might be harder for small companies, since it is not costed for in the fee regime98), redirecting the funding currently paid by individual enforcement agents to get certificated by the courts,99 and charging a fee to creditors.100 There is a particular need to consider the position of self-employed bailiffs.

63.We are surprised that bailiffs are apparently so under-regulated compared with other sectors, especially given that they deal with some of the most vulnerable people in society. It does not make sense for enforcement to be regulated only through the rubber-stamping of individuals through a court certification process. In our view, it would increase the reputation of the sector to have much stronger regulation.

64.Having said that, the enforcement industry is relatively small: about 2,500 civil enforcement agents and just over 40 High Court Enforcement Officers are registered with the MOJ. It is important that any new regulation function should be proportionate and not over burdensome, so as to reduce costs which might be passed on to the public purse.

65.We recommend that the Government establish a regulator for the enforcement agent industry, separate to the complaints body. The regulator should be able to stop unfit enforcement agents and companies from practising. It should have the power to set intermediate sanctions such as fines for poor behaviour. An appeal mechanism should be built in. This regulator should also work to change culture and raise standards (for example, by dissemination of good practice, owning and updating the National Standards, and supporting continuing professional development). It should work closely with the complaints body, for example, sharing information about good practice. The Ministry of Justice should consult widely on where this regulatory responsibility should sit, whether in an existing body or a new body, and how it should be funded.

Fees

66.We looked into whether the fee structure is working to encourage enforcement agents and debtors to settle at an early stage and to minimise the financial impact on debtors. Again, we received very mixed views on this.

67.The debt advice charities were of the strong view that the standardised fee structure was not working, and had not achieved the aim of encouraging enforcement agents to settle debts at an early stage with debtors.101 For example, StepChange told us that a quarter of people who had been visited by a bailiff tried to arrange repayment over the phone but found that the bailiff insisted on visiting their home to take payment [thus triggering the next stage of payment and increasing the debt by £235].102

68.However, the enforcement agents had more positive views about the impact of the new fee regime. In particular, they pointed to the new Compliance Stage, which they told us increased settlement by phone or in writing (ie, without a bailiff visit).103 Attention was also drawn to the single fee for all enforcement stage activity, meaning that civil enforcement agents no longer had an economic incentive to undertake more than one visit.104

69.Marston pointed out that “The 2014 introduction of a Compliance Stage now means that over 40% of all payments are generated without sending an agent at all (compared to 0% for council tax before 2014). Local authorities are setting increasing targets for recoveries at the Compliance Stage, and removing companies from their panels for failing to achieve these”.105

70.We did not take a large amount of evidence on the level of fees and the stages of recovery. We were however, encouraged to be told that removal of goods is now very rare (“a myth—we just do not see that”106): Marston told us that it occurred in less than 0.8% of cases.107 We would expect the MOJ to look closely at these statistics as part of their work to evaluate debt recovery rates.108

71.Joe Lane of Citizens Advice argued that a regulator, which would have oversight of company revenue and costs, should have the remit to set the fee structure.109 Peter Tutton of StepChange concurred: “It is absolutely incumbent on the Government to keep looking and making sure that those fees are set at the right level and are not excessive […] We would like a commitment from the MOJ that in the long run it would need to be the job of the regulator to do that economic analysis.”110

72.We welcome the MOJ’s work to evaluate debt recovery rates, since it is important that as much debt as possible is collected without expensive bailiff visits or the pain of the seizure and sale of personal goods. The fee structure also deserves close attention, since it has not been properly reviewed or updated since its introduction in 2014, despite the Government’s intention at the time to review annually in the light of CPI inflation. Given that these fees are paid by some of the poorest people in society, it is vital that the fees are proportionate.

73.We recommend that the new regulator regularly reviews and makes expert recommendations to the MOJ about the fixed fee structure set out in The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. Fees should be set as low as possible while ensuring the sustainability of the enforcement industry.

Body-Worn Cameras

74.We found strong support for the use of body-worn cameras, described variously as “crucial”,111 “very useful”,112 “invaluable”,113 and “an excellent advance”.114 Carole Kenney from Phoenix told us that: “In all reputable organisations, enforcement agents have body-worn cameras [which allow any complaint to be easily proven or disproven].”115 David Platts told us that his District Council had procured an agreement with an enforcement agency based partly on the fact that bodycams were to be worn at all times by the agents.116

75.The LGSCO told us:

The availability of body-worn video camera evidence means we can make a firm ruling on complaints about the behaviour of the bailiffs, as opposed to relying on the unsupported statements of the parties involved. We have, in the period under consideration, not found fault with the agent’s behaviour in any case where there was video camera evidence available.117

76.There was strong support for making body-worn cameras mandatory: a typical response was that “use of this technology should be mandated […] as it serves to discourage unfounded complaints and is a vital tool in resolving questions and complaints quickly and unequivocally.”118 Russell Hamblin-Boone of CIVEA suggested that he would absolutely welcome this “from an adjudication point of view and a protection point of view”.119 CEEA stated: “[they] protect not only the agent, but the debtor as well”, reminding us that “our members go to work each day not knowing if they are going to be assaulted, abused”.120 While we heard that the IT burden was substantial and that there would be a need for specific guidance on how it should operate,121 there was clearly strong evidence that body-worn cameras are important in protecting the agent and debtor, raising standards in the industry and enabling complaints to be properly investigated.

77.Technology has moved on since the National Standards were produced in 2014. We were struck by the LGSCO’s evidence that they had not found fault with the agent’s behaviour in a single case where the enforcement agent was wearing a body- worn camera.

78.We recommend that body-worn cameras be mandatory for all enforcement agents visiting homes and businesses. We also recommend that the regulator produce good practice on their use.


18 Q98 (Carole Kenney)

19 Q98 (Tracey Stone) Q101 (Andrew Wilson) Association of Civil Enforcement Agents (BFF0004)

20 Q98 (Carole Kenney) Q101 (Andrew Wilson)

21 Q101 (Andrew Wilson)

26 Q2

28 Q9

31 Q53 (Simon Jacobs)

32 Q126 (Carole Kenney) Q51 (Simon Jacobs)

33 Q126 (Tracey Stone)

34 Marston Holdings (BFF0008)

35 Q76 (Simon Jacobs)

36 The Campaign for Enforcement Reform (BFF0009) p4

37 Civil Enforcement Association (BFF0002)

38 Civil Enforcement Association (BFF0002)

39 Qq122–123 (Andrew Wilson)

40 Certificated Enforcement Agents Association (BFF0004)

41 Q74 (Simon Jacobs)

42 Q173 (Barrie Minney)

44 There is an exception in that the LGCSCO does not have jurisdiction over high court bailiffs, even if collecting local authority debt such as housing benefit overpayments, sundry debts and rent.

45 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010)

47 ie. between 1 April 2014 and 31 December 2018

48 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010)

50 There is no charge for making a complaint about certification (ie that a bailiff is not a fit and proper person to hold a certificate), but a fee of £255 (with the possibility of means tested fee remission) for complaints about over-charging or breach of the rules.

51 Citizens Advice, A law unto themselves: how bailiffs are breaking the rules (November 2018) p23

52 Q82 (Russell Hamblin-Boone)

54 Qq12–14 (Joe Lane)

55 Civil Enforcement Association (BFF0002)

56 Q117 (Carole Kenney); see also Marston Holdings (BFF0008)

57 High Court Enforcement Officers Association (BFF0001)

59 Money Advice Trust (BFF0005) para 5.1

62 AdviceUK, Christians against Poverty, Citizens Advice, Community Money Advice, Institute of Money Advisers, Money Advice Trust, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, PayPlan, StepChange, The Children’s Society, Z2K, Taking control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform, 2017

63 Civil Enforcement Association (BFF0002) Para 61

64 Certificated Enforcement Agents Association (BFF0004) para 14

65 Citizens Advice (2019), “A law unto themselves: How bailiffs are breaking the rules”, pp.5.

68 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010) para 20; Q53 (Russell Hamblin-Boone); Q182 (David Platts)

69 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010) para 19

70 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010) para 22

71 Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, PHSO Annual Scrutiny 2016–17: Third Report of Session 2017–19, April 2018 (HC 492) para 23, 24

73 Qq191–194 (Barrie Minney)

77 AdviceUK, Christians against Poverty, Citizens Advice, Community Money Advice, Institute of Money Advisers, Money Advice Trust, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, PayPlan, StepChange, The Children’s Society, Z2K, Taking control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform, 2017

78 Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (BFF0007)

79 StepChange Debt Charity (BFF0006)

80 Q155 (Carole Kenney) Q191 (Barrie Minney)

82 Q51 (Simon Jacobs)

83 Q201 (David Platts, quoting his discussions with Bristow & Sutor. Note that we did not take direct evidence from Bristow & Sutor)

84 Q155 (Carole Kenney)

85 Q201 (David Platts, quoting his discussions with Bristow & Sutor)

86 Q156 (Carole Kenney)

87 Q91(Russell Hamblin-Boone), Q96 (Simon Jacobs)

88 Certificated Enforcement Agents Association (BFF0004)

90 Q26 (Joe Lane)

91 Q201 (David Platts)

92 Q26 (Joe Lane)

93 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010) para 18

94 Q30 (Joanna Elson) Q38 (Joe Lane). On the other hand we also heard arguments that the Financial Conduct Authority is not the appropriate authority because the firms are not subject to the Financial Services and Markets Act (Q91, Russell Hamblin-Boone)

95 Q191 (Barrie Minney)

96 Marston Holdings (BFF0008)

97 Q196 (John Kruse) Q35 (Joe Lane)

98 Q156 (Carole Kenney)

99 Q191 (Barrie Minney) Q196 (John Kruse)

100 Q35 (Joe Lane)

101 Q23 (Joanna Elson); AdviceUK, Christians against Poverty, Citizens Advice, Community Money Advice, Institute of Money Advisers, Money Advice Trust, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, PayPlan, StepChange, The Children’s Society, Z2K, Taking control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform, 2017

102 Q23 (Peter Tutton)

103 Q98 (Carole Kenney) Q101 (Andrew Wilson)

104 Marston Holdings (BFF0008) p2

105 Marston Holdings (BFF0008) p2

106 Q108 (Carole Kenney)

107 Marston Holdings (BFF0008) p2. “Since 2014, therefore, removal of goods only takes place in 0.8% of cases, and circa 90% of these relate to vehicles. Removal of goods from a property is now very rare (less than 0.1% of cases) and—since 2014—many agents will not have undertaken this course of action at all”

108 Letter from Lord Keen of Elie QC to Robert Neill, Call for evidence on enforcement agents, 26 October 2018

111 Q138 (Andrew Wilson)

112 Q166 (Andrew Hobley)

113 Marston Holdings (BFF0008)

114 Q170 (John Kruse)

117 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (BFF0010) para 13

118 Marston Holdings (BFF0008); see also Carole Kenney (Q154), Andrew Hobley (Q170)

120 Certificated Enforcement Agents Association (BFF0004) para 15

121 Q170 (John Kruse)




Published: 11 April 2019