People in debt will be given greater protection from rogue bailiffs as the government announced the introduction of compulsory body-worn cameras.
While the vast majority of bailiffs are professional and work within the rules, there are concerns that some bailiffs continue to employ intimidating tactics that put both themselves and often vulnerable consumers at risk, the Government says.
The announcement follows actions by Ministers to improve industry standards and better protect consumers. This includes introducing a new 60-day ‘breathing space’ for people struggling to cope with debt, during which creditors will not be able to chase payments and individuals must seek professional advice.
However, Citizens Advice said the cameras “would do nothing to protect people” without regulation.
Research by Citizens Advice and debt charity Stepchange found one third (850,000) of the 2.2 million people contacted by a bailiff in the two years to November 2018 experienced them breaking those rules – such as forcing entry into a home or removing goods needed for work.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Bailiff body cameras will do nothing to protect people while there is no industry regulator to oversee how they are used.
“While it’s encouraging the government has committed to further action, its next step must be the creation of an independent regulator to crack down on rule-breaking bailiffs.
“At Citizens Advice, we help one person every three minutes with a bailiff problem. We hope the government will take full consideration of our recommendations in its upcoming response to its call for evidence.”
The Government recently called for evidence from members of the public with an aim to end intimidating practices and better protect vulnerable people.
A response outlining its findings, including options for independent regulation and an improved complaints system, will be published after the summer following further engagement with the enforcement industry and the advice sector.