Body Cameras to be Compulsory for Debt Collectors
July 22, 2019
The government has announced details of a new policy that will legally oblige debt collectors and bailiffs to wear body cameras as they go about their work.
Hopes are that the new rules will serve as a means of better protecting debtors from the potentially intimidatory and generally unfair behaviours of rogue bailiffs.
The government says that while the “vast majority” of bailiffs act professionally and within the law, it also accepts concerns that some debt collectors act in ways that put themselves and vulnerable debtors into dangerous or stressful situations.
It’s expected that obliging debt collectors to wear cameras as they go about their work will bring about a reduction in rogue activity in these contexts and help make sure that debts are being routinely collected from individuals across the country in a fairer and safer way.
Ministers are framing the decision on compulsory body cameras for debt collectors as being part of a broader plan to provide better protections to people who are struggling to cope with their debts and finding it tough to fend off their creditors.
In particular, the government has stressed the potential importance of rules relating to its ‘60-day breathing space’ initiatives, which are incoming and should soon give debtors access to periods of time during which they can seek to address their debt problems without being pressured or pursued by their creditors.
“Whilst most bailiffs act above board, body-worn cameras will provide greater security for all involved – not least consumers who are often vulnerable,” said justice minister Paul Maynard as he announced the government’s new policy.
However, the debt help charity StepChange has suggested that much more still needs to be done to properly tackle the issue of rogue bailiffs and their unlawful behaviours.
“While it’s encouraging to see the government taking steps to curb unlawful bailiff behaviour, today’s announcement does nothing to tackle the deep-rooted problems that exist within the bailiff industry in this country,” said Richard Lane, StepChange’s director of external affairs.
“We know from our clients’ experiences that bailiffs’ aggressive pursuit of debts can cause untold anxiety and stress, often pressuring people into making unaffordable repayments.”