Building better bailiffs
The role of the bailiff is one of the world’s oldest professions and, until 2014, had been operating under some centuries’ old legislation. However, on 6 April 2014, the Taking of Goods Regulations were updated to ensure that the enforcement industry worked for the good of not only the debtor but client and bailiff too. It was the cue for one company to seize the chance to do things differently, designing a course to enhance the quality of training available as well as improve standards and consistency across the enforcement industry.
Up until now individual enforcement companies have designed their own courses to train their staff. This training was often limited to laws and regulations of enforcement, and very rarely provided instruction on ‘the human factor’. Reading body language, managing conflict and hostile situations, and identifying the ‘can’t’ payers as opposed to the ‘won’t’ payers are all crucial aspects of the job. Such training often resulted in bailiffs being ill equipped to deal with certain types of situation, resulting in poor collection rates and, commonly, an increased number of complaints.
EndeavourUK, however, decided to take a different approach and designed a course to enhance the quality of training available, as well as improve standards and consistency across the industry. Its level 3 Certificate for Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs) course is endorsed by Highfield Awarding Body of Compliance (HABC) and is a favourite with ex-Forces personnel.
We talked to Gary Shivers, who left the Forces having served 22 years as a Staff Sergeant in the Queens Royal Hussars, to ask why he chose enforcement as his new career and, in particular, why he chose this course through the ELCAS scheme.
‘I decided to move into enforcement after my extended career within the military,’ he told us. ‘Based in Germany, it was more difficult and I was very apprehensive about which career path I should choose. I found out about EndeavourUK’s enforcement courses through a resettlement centre in Germany and gave them a call. Following an intensive telephone interview with Chris Lucas-Jones [EndeavourUK founder, managing director and enforcement expert], I am pleased to say that I made a good impression – Chris was happy with my skill-set and convinced me that my military skills were transferable to a role within the enforcement industry.
‘Following this thorough interview, Chris felt I was the right calibre of candidate to attend the new level 3 course he had just launched. Luckily for me, he gave me the green light and, using my ELCAS funding, I attended an intensive five-day training programme with EndeavourUK. The tutor, also ex-military, and Chris became my mentors and really opened my eyes to how professional the industry is if you are trained properly.
‘Following the classroom-based training and exam process, I was out on the streets shadowing Chris, totally over and above his role as a trainer, learning how to deal with conflict and difficult situations. Chris is still a firm friend and I have gone on to work for one of the biggest enforcement companies in the UK. I have now taken a managerial position and have responsibility for a team of enforcement agents working on a whole range of different High Court writs on a daily basis. I am eternally grateful that I met Chris that day and would recommend life as an enforcement agent after the military as a good, solid career with great prospects and salary rewards.’
EndeavourUK had been working with ex-Forces personnel for some time. Indeed, Chris believes that ex-military personnel in particular have a great aptitude for this type of work, their existing training having already prepared them for many different situations both confrontational and potentially harmful.
WHAT DOES THE COURSE COVER?
The level 3 Certificate for Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs) course is made up of five mandatory units:
- Unit 1 – Roles and Responsibilities of an Enforcement Agent (Bailiff)
- Unit 2 – Magistrates Debt and Road Traffic Debt
- Unit 3 – Council Tax (CT), National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) and Commercial Rent
- Unit 4 – Managing Conflict and Effective Bailiff Action
- Unit 5 – Working as an Enforcement Agent
With Chris’s background as a well-known enforcement agent, and the fact that he had written the only level 3 Enforcement Agent Taking Control of Goods endorsed course, Gary felt that this level of training was far superior to that offered by other courses he had investigated. It provided both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to become a successful enforcement agent. As well as learning the elements relating to the main debt types, Gary was taught skills that enabled him to deal with conflict and read body language.
The course also positively supported the legislation that came into force in April 2014, which clarified a number of issues – for example, the times between which collections can be made, people who are exempt from enforcement action and, crucially, the standardisation of fees across different types and specifying when these fees can be applied. One of the key aspects that this new legislation aimed to address was the issue of aggressive bailiff behaviour, something that, over the years, has tarnished the reputation of the industry. To solve this issue it is really important that bailiffs are given the correct training to deal with the everyday situations they will come up against.
A final thought …
Chris sums things up, saying, ‘I set up EndeavourUK in 2011, initially to focus on bailiff training. My aim six years on remains the same: to help improve both the standards and consistency of enforcement within the bailiff industry. I found that there were many ex-military bailiffs that had the correct legal knowledge but lacked the other attributes that would take them from being average bailiffs to effective professional bailiffs. We are now seeing the industry change and every ex-military person who comes through our level 3 Enforcement Agent course has the knowledge, hands-on experience and skills to carry out their chosen new career at a high standard and comply with legislation.’