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Taking control: bailiff activity during the coronavirus crisis

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We have been monitoring bailiff conduct since visits were resumed on 24 August following the five-month suspension due to Covid-19.

Our evidence demonstrates that, without independent oversight, voluntary guidance and agreements cannot be relied upon to control bailiff behaviour and protect public health.

While the Government’s action to legally prevent entry during the national lockdown is welcome, we are concerned about the return to a voluntary approach when this ends, as well as the fact it only covers entry, not visits.

In the midst of a public health emergency that has seen millions of households face mounting financial difficulties, the inability of guidance to set and uphold necessary standards of bailiff conduct further escalates the risks of harm to individuals.

To protect individuals in debt two things must happen:

  1. The government must act urgently to rectify this situation by legislating to suspend bailiff visits during national lockdowns in England, and - when reverting to a regional system - in local authorities under tier 2 and 3 restrictions
  2. In the medium term the government needs to improve oversight of the sector which has such a major impact on the way people in financial difficulty are treated. Government should act swiftly to establish an independent regulator for bailiffs as a long term solution to misconduct

Take a look at the full briefing to find out more.