The Ministry of Justice announced today that Body Worn Cameras are to be made compulsory for bailiffs. The decision was made following complaints of illegal and aggressive behaviour.
The new rule affects High Court Enforcement and Certified Enforcement Agents and has been put in place to ensure that debt is collected in a fair and safe manner.
It comes after recent moves by ministers to improve professional standards and protect vulnerable consumers. Other changes will include the introduction of a new 60-day ‘breathing space’ for people who are struggling with debt. During this period, creditors will see their interest frozen and will not be able to collect payments. Individuals will be protected from enforcement action for the 60 days and must seek professional advice.
Justice Minister Paul Maynard said:
The positive impact of Body Worn Cameras
Most bailiff and debt collection agencies in the UK are professionally run operations that adhere to legislation that protects both the public and enforcement agency workers. But if further evidence is needed to answer questions about the effectiveness of Body Worn Cameras, a 2016 study carried out by Cambridge University is a useful starting point.
Police equipped with Body Worn Cameras received 93% fewer complaints from members of the public, according to the study. Almost 2,000 officers from police forces in the UK and US took part in the exercise, encompassing 1,429,868 officer hours across 4,264 shifts in jurisdictions that cover a total population of two million citizens. The year-long study remains one of the largest randomised controlled experiments in the history of criminal justice research.
Lead author Dr Barak Ariel, from Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, said: “The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event – increasing accountability on both sides.”
Complaints filed against police forces are expensive and resource-intensive, especially in the US where lawsuits are often presented in cases of alleged police brutality. Body Worn Cameras are proving effective in cooling down potential flashpoints between officers and suspects.
The new government rules will force unscrupulous bailiffs to change their working methods or risk being punished for the unfair treatment of people in debt.
The introduction of Body Worn Cameras will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the bailiff sector with increased accountability from both enforcement officers and members of the public.