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Debt Collection

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of the effects of the use by bailiffs of powers under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004; and if he will make a statement. (251853)

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, provided bailiffs with powers of search and forced entry to premises when executing warrants to recover fines.

The contracts Her Majesty’s Courts Service have with private bailiff companies requires these companies to report monthly on the use of search and forced entry powers to Her Majesty’s Courts Service.

The report provides details on the execution rate of warrants, training undertaken by contractor staff and any complaints received by the contractor on action taken by their staff. A component of the report requires contractors to provide the number of warrants where search and entry was used under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

Additionally, a complaints section of the report records any complaints received by the contractor from defaulters on the use of forced entry. Specific entries include alleged damage to property, threats of violence and actual violence. The use of search and entry and its application would be detailed in these sections of the report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to release the redacted parts of magistrates’ court guidance to bailiffs on procedures for breaking in to properties as a last resort. (251854)

The Information Commissioner agreed with the proposed redactions when the guidance was first released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 9 December 2008 and the Government have no plans to release the redacted parts.