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Bailiffs

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of whether the right of a bailiff to break in to domestic premises to enforce a fine, granted to bailiffs in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, is practised with due care and attention to sick, vulnerable and impoverished debtors. [HL831]

All of Her Majesty's Courts Service civilian enforcement officers and private contracted bailiffs are required to have been trained in the appropriate application of these powers and use of conflict management techniques. Her Majesty's Courts Service also issues instructions to in-house civilian enforcement officers and private bailiff companies under contract to of Her Majesty's Courts Service on how and when to use these powers. The contracts with these companies require them to adhere to these instructions and to refer back to the magistrates’ court before attempting to use them. The contracts also require the companies to withdraw and cease execution of any warrant where it becomes apparent that the individual falls into one of the categories deemed vulnerable and refer the matter back to the court before any further action is taken.

Powers of entry have only been used on two occasions in the last year by Her Majesty's Courts Service contracted bailiffs. Her Majesty's Courts Service issued 625,000 distress warrants to contracted bailiff companies in 2007-08.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will release the redacted parts of the magistrates' courts guidance to bailiffs about the procedures for breaking in as a last resort. [HL833]

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.