BBC Home > BBC News > UK

Bailiffs 'unlawfully enter homes'

19 January 08 05:52 GMT

Bailiffs are illegally entering homes to confiscate people's possessions, the National Debtline has warned.

The charity says many bailiffs are guilty of harassment and intimidation, with 40% misrepresenting their powers of entry into people's homes.

It also says police do not stop such practices because many officers do not fully understand the law themselves.

The government says new legislation, passed last year but still to be implemented, will clarify the rules.

While the National Debtline says it accepts a system needs to be in place to make people pay their bills, it says it is being abused and the charity is receiving complaints on a daily basis.

It is also concerned bailiffs' powers to enter properties will be expanded when new laws, part of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill, come into force.

'Clear framework'

Research of 500 cases by the Citizens Advice service in March last year also showed that almost two-thirds of bailiffs were guilty of harassment or intimidation, while 40% misled people about their powers of entry.

A select committee of MPs warned a month earlier that only a certification scheme for bailiffs would fully protect the public.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said a "clear regulatory framework" was needed to protect the human rights of debtors.

The government says new laws will simplify current rules, which are currently a mixture of different types of legislation, much written in "obscure language" and difficult for most people to understand.

Related BBC sites