Body-worn cameras to be compulsory for bailiffs amid fears of debtor bullying

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that body-worn cameras will be compulsory for bailiffs in England and Wales, in an effort to help protect debtors from the ‘intimidation and aggression’ adopted by some rogue certified enforcement agents.

The new initiative will also apply to High Court enforcement officers, but not to county court bailiffs.

creditor due

Reforms to debt collection

The proposed introduction of cameras follows on from a 2017 report, entitled Taking Control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform, which was co-authored by a group of seven organisations: AdviceUK, Christians Against Poverty, Citizens Advice, the Money Advice Trust, StepChange Debt Charity, The Children’s Society and Z2K. The report called for a number of reforms to improve the lives of people in debt, including the independent regulation of bailiffs, a single complaints mechanism, and restructuring of bailiff fees in an effort to incentivise good practice.

  • In excess of 2.3 million debts were referred to bailiffs in 2016/17 (according to an FOI request by the Money Advice Trust).
  • In 2018, Citizens Advice helped 41,000 people with bailiff issues.

Ending intimidation and protecting the vulnerable

Introducing the latest MoJ initiative, Justice Minister Paul Maynard said: ‘body-worn cameras will provide greater security for all involved – not least consumers who are often vulnerable.’

However, in responding to news of the mandatory introduction of the cameras, campaigners have argued that more action is needed to cope with ‘rule-breaking bailiffs’.

Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy said: ‘Bailiff body cameras will do nothing to protect people while there is no industry regulator to oversee how they are used.’

Implementation and future prospects

No date has been announced for the introduction of the new cameras, which is expected to affect around 2,500 bailiffs, but the MoJ says it will work with the industry to ensure that the equipment becomes compulsory as soon as possible.

Further findings and actions on bailiff behaviour are expected to be published later in 2019. The MoJ will be working with the Treasury to implement a ‘breathing space’ period for people with problem debts, and with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to review the collection of council tax debt.

See also

Pledge to reform council tax debt collection

Debt collection can and should be done responsibly

How should I deal with a county court judgment for debt?

You may also like

Body-worn cameras to curb aggressive bailiffs (MoJ)

Bailiff reform (Citizens Advice)

Body-worn cameras to be compulsory for bailiffs (BBC News)

Taking Control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform (March 2017)

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