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Debt Collection: Standards

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice who in HM Courts Service is responsible for ensuring compliance with the national standards for enforcement agents by (a) county court bailiffs, (b) authorised High Court enforcement officers and their bailiffs and (c) enforcement companies and their employees contracted for magistrates enforcement; what compliance checks were undertaken in 2007; and if he will make a statement. (187008)

County court bailiffs are subject to civil service recruitment and the civil service code governs their behaviour. They are subject to strict controls over their conduct, exceeding the national standards, and discipline under civil service disciplinary procedures.

Oversight of the conduct of authorised High Court enforcement officers (HCEOs) is delegated by the Lord Chancellor to the senior master of the Queen’s bench division of the High Court.

The principles and concepts contained within the national standards for enforcement agents are encapsulated in the contracts that HMCS holds with those firms employed by them to enforce warrants issued by the magistrates courts. Management of these contracts is the responsibility of regional contract managers employed by HMCS.

During 2007 the regional contract managers received monthly performance reports and held regular meetings to discuss issues, complaints and the provision of services generally. Centrally a review of both performance and compliance with the terms of the contract is undertaken bi-annually. In addition these companies were audited against their ability to meet contract protocols during 2007. As a result no contract breaches were identified.