Skip to main content

National Standards for Enforcement Agents

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 3 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to monitor the level of compliance of (a) magistrates, (b) HM Courts Service fines officers and (c) bailiff companies with the provisions on vulnerable situations of his Department's National Standards for Enforcement Agents. (314403)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 27 January 2009, Official Report, columns 377-78W.

I confirm that a protocol has been introduced setting out the procedure to be taken with vulnerable defaulters including the instruction not to take any action to levy distress without prior reference to the court where the individual falls into one of categories deemed as vulnerable. Complaints by members of the public about the conduct of the contractor must be reported to Her Majesty's Courts Service regional contract managers, together with details of how those complaints have been dealt with and resolved. These are reviewed as part of the contract management process.

Further reporting protocols now contained within the contracts strengthen the control and monitoring arrangements available to HMCS on contractor performance. This includes quarterly and six-month assurance reporting. Within these reports each contractor will detail its procedures and processes and the agreed authorisation methods with each HMCS region and area for the operation of the contracts.

There is also a requirement for each contractor to make an annual operation report reviewing their management of the contract. Combined, these reports form the basis for the HMCS Director of Enforcement to make an annual report covering the operation of all regional contracts.

The reports produced by the contractors at the six month and yearly stages of the contract will be reviewed and reported on to the HMCS Compliance and Enforcement and main HMCS Management boards.