Stricter rules to govern working practices of bailiffs

Bailiffs and other enforcement agents will be regulated more strictly under new laws announced this week.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill creates a national framework to regulate all enforcement agents, including bailiffs, who are not Crown employees.

In future, they will all have compulsory criminal record checks, be subject to the same complaints system and all have to hold a certificate issued by a county court judge.

Bailiffs will have to undergo rigorous training to get a certificate, including diversity awareness and handling vulnerable people, the government said.

Under the Bill, enforcement agents who break the law could face a fine of up to £5,000 or damages, as well as suspension or cancellation of their certificate to prevent them continuing to operate.

In the longer term, the government is looking at regulation by an outside body, with the preferred option of using the Security Industry Authority.

The Bill had its third reading in the House of Lords earlier this week and has begun its passage through the House of Commons.

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