The government has moved to introduce compulsory body-worn cameras as part of efforts to protect people from rogue bailiffs.
Although the government acknowledges that the “vast majority” of enforcement agents carry out their work professionally, it has become increasingly concerned that some bailiffs continue to employ intimidating tactics that put both themselves and often vulnerable consumers at risk.
As such, the Ministry of Justice has announced that body-worn cameras will be mandatory to ensure debt is collected in a fair and safe manner, with those who fail to do so held to account.
Justice minister Paul Maynard said: “The use of intimidation and aggression by some bailiffs is utterly unacceptable, and it is right we do all we can to tackle such behaviour.
“While most bailiffs act above board, body-worn cameras will provide greater security for all involved - not least consumers who are often vulnerable.”
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said: “We have been working towards an industry agreement on the compulsory use of body-worn video. Following talks with ministers we are encouraged by the decision that all enforcement agents must record their activities, which should include in-house council teams.
“This decision offers reassurance to the public that standards are consistently high and gives protection to our agents who do a difficult job on behalf of local authorities.”
It comes after the introduction of the Breathing Space scheme for people struggling to cope with debt, during which creditors will not be able to chase payments for 60 days and individuals must seek professional advice.
In 2014 the government introduced reforms to strengthen protection from rogue enforcement agents.
The reforms centred on the implementation the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
They provided legal protection by introducing a code governing, among other things:
The 2014 reforms also stopped bailiffs entering homes when only children are present and introduced mandatory training and a certification process for enforcement agents. Ministers agreed to review the 2014 reforms after one, three and five years and have led to the latest changes.