CIVEA responds to Citizens Advice call for bailiff regulation

Responding to Citizens Advice claims that it has evidence of widespread problems in the enforcement industry, Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said: “This report is heavily based on the views of just 277 people who have had contact with bailiffs in the past two years. It is worrying that debt advisers consider it acceptable to exaggerate figures when they cannot get robust data. It is of great concern that Citizens Advice fails to make a distinction between laws that are broken and laws that people simply don’t like. For example, in the report it is assumed that a threat to force entry to a property or to remove goods required for work purposes is breaking the regulations. That is simply incorrect and depends on the circumstances. It is shocking that agents are being accused of acting illegally based on such flimsy evidence.

“A visit by an enforcement agent is always the last resort. In order to receive a visit you must have ignored final demands, emails, phone calls and texts. Agents are highly trained and must follow a process set out in detailed regulations to ensure that they collect unpaid council tax and court fines fairly. Of course, agents need to be assertive when chasing down people who refuse to pay their council tax or court fines. But if there is any genuine evidence that agents are acting illegally then we will investigate and take the necessary action. So, if we are to continue working together to drive up industry standards, we must avoid an emotionally-charged debate and instead focus on robust facts and strong evidence.”