Almost one million people have had the misfortune of encountering a rogue bailiff in Britain. Shocking figures show one person every minute is forced to deal with a law-breaking debt collector.
Now the Government has launched a crackdown to stop them making life a misery for so many and protect people in debt. Aggressive rogue bailiffs are set to face scrutiny under new plans to end ‘bully-boy’ bailiff tactics.
The move has been announced following the case of a disabled woman who feared she was being burgled when rogue bailiffs burst into her home without showing any ID, held her husband in a headlock and took £240 from her purse.
It was only after they left, she discovered it was in connection with an unpaid parking fine she’d received when her disabled car badge was incorrectly cancelled during a change in her benefits. She had not received any letters or warnings about the fine
Details of the disturbing incident were relayed in the House of Commons by Labour MP Emma Reynolds, who told members the woman was left distraught by the experience.
In the discussion about bailiffs’ rights, Reynolds referred to a study by Citizens Advice revealing a third of people have been on the receiving end of heavy-handed debt collectors. More than 850,000 have reported forced entry into their homes or having goods seized and taken from them.
Bailiffs are empowered to collect unpaid debts but have strict limits on how they can do this. They should give at least seven day’ notice of their first visit and you do not have to open your door to them or let them in.
Bailiffs cannot enter your home:
- By force, such as pushing past you
- If only children under the age of 16 or vulnerable people, with disabilities for example, are present
- Between 9pm and 6am
- Through anything except the door
The Government wants to investigate what can be done to protect people from rogue bailiffs who break these rules. All those with an interest will be urged to speak out on how best to end underhand tactics.
Individuals, families, and other victims will be asked to get involved and give their opinions on tougher protections, including the option of an independent watchdog.
In announcing the clampdown down, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said:
“The majority of bailiffs act professionally and within the rules, but we have been told by those working on the front line that this may not always be the case.
“Aggressive tactics will not be tolerated, and through our call for evidence we will identify where the problems are and, if necessary, take action to ensure all bailiffs operate professionally and with proper respect and sensitivity.”
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