Body-worn cameras “not nearly enough” to resolve bailiff problems on their own

The Ministry of Justice has today announced the introduction of compulsory body-worn cameras for certificated bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers, with a further response to its recent call for evidence due later this year.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “Compulsory body-worn cameras are a good idea, but on their own will not do nearly enough to resolve the systemic problems that exist in the bailiff industry.

“Our debt advisers hear day in, day out the harm being caused by bailiff action – and this goes far beyond a few so-called ‘rogue bailiffs’.

“Body-worn cameras should be just one small part of a much wider system of independent regulation, accompanied by an easily accessible complaints mechanism, as the Justice Select Committee has recommended.

“We are pleased the Minister has indicated that independent regulation is still on the table as an option, and look forward to working with Ministry of Justice officials as they develop their full response to the recent call for evidence.”

Research by the Money Advice Trust has shown that 2.3 million debts were passed to bailiffs by local authorities in England and Wales in 2016/17 – an increase of 14% on two years previously. The majority of these debts (1.38 million) were council tax arrears.
83% of National Debtline callers surveyed who had experienced bailiff action reported a negative impact on their wellbeing.

The Money Advice Trust is a member of the Taking Control group of debt advice and other charities that has been campaigning for independent regulation of bailiffs and bailiff firms, a single complaints mechanism and a review of the statutory bailiff fee structure.