‘Bailiffs could break in’ if new laws are introduced
Bailiffs, already mistrusted by many people in the UK, could be given new powers to enter properties and seize goods if new legislation is introduced, consumer charity Citizens Advice (CA) has warned.
CA said that proposed changes in the law will lead to widespread abuse of their powers by bailiffs already prone to bend the rules to make their collection targets.
But the Government said that it will actually simplify the rules governing bailiffs, and will help protect vulnerable people from their worst excesses.
At the moment only enforcement officers dealing with magistrates’ court fines and have the right to force their way into people’s homes, but CA said that new rules would allow bailiffs to do the same with debts like overdue credit card payments.
CA analysed 500 cases where bailiffs were employed and found that almost two-thirds of them were guilty of harassment or intimidation, with 40% misleading debtors over their powers of entry.
CA chief executive David Harker said: “Our evidence over many years shows that bailiffs have an appalling track record of abusing their existing powers against vulnerable people.
“They are often abusive and aggressive and use threats of violence and prison to pressurise people into paying lump sums they cannot afford. This bill should have been the perfect opportunity to modernise the law and end abuse once and for all.”