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CAB concerned that bailiffs could abuse their powers

The Citizens Advice Bureau has expressed concerns over the possibility that bailiffs could start abusing the powers when a new bill comes into force that enables them to force entry into the homes of people that are not paying up on their credit card and loan debts.

According to the CAB the introduction of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill could give bailiffs the opportunity to abuse their powers, and as a result of this many vulnerable people could find themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous bailiffs.

The powers ranted to bailiffs when it comes to credit card debt and loans is limited. However, this new bill would give bailiffs greater powers. The CAB is now urging the government to look at independent regulation for bailiffs, which, states the agency, should form part of the new bill. According to the CAB forced entry should only used as a last resort, and only if the person is not vulnerable. The bureau added that checks should be carried out into the vulnerability of the person as well as their ability to make repayments.

The Chief Executive of the CAB stated: '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.'

He added: 'We are urging MPs to make sure the Bill includes independent regulation to rein in the worst excesses of bailiff behaviour. It is vital that the Bill also provides strong safeguards to ensure that forcible entry is only used as an absolute last resort, and only after the vulnerability of the debtor and their ability to make repayments have been taken into account.'

Tom Smith
24th March 2007



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