Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Rotten] Thick As Legal Thieves

Posted by Lex Fear on October 2, 2006

“There is something interesting about the power of money, and the blindness of the middle class to the plight of the poorest in society.”

I was saving this to write something more full-blown, but time seems to be speeding up to my impending trip. So here’s something short but should still have an impact on you.

The BBC recently conducted one of their undercover expose’s into the murky world of bailiffs. The results were as I expected, shocking but not surprising. Which begs the question, will the government ever do something about the abuse of power that goes on in this country?

Jim Wheble writes:

“They are supposed to be Officers of the Court enforcing the law on behalf of the public. Instead I saw bailiffs cheat, lie and dissemble. I saw them illegally breaking and entering and I saw them fraudulently conning members of the public out of hundreds of pounds.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t pay their debts and I’m certainly not criticising the companies who are owed money, but I saw bailiffs make people pay debts they didn’t even owe and illegally inflate existing fines to more than they were supposed to be.” – cont.

I don’t know which is worse, NIP fines before you have been judged guilty on evidence, or being judged in a court of law then handed over to these dogs? There’s something sick about the way people who are in trusted positions of authority above us get pleasure out of seeing people who are already suffering a misfortune, going through unnecessary further pain.

“See the problem is at the moment madam, the court has issued a warrant against him at this address,” he tells her. He goes on to explain to the terrified woman that we are “court enforcement officers”.

He adds: “Unless we can gain £400 this morning…we do have a warrant to remove goods.”

I know this is simply not true – and so does my colleague. We have no right to remove this woman’s possessions and no right to pressurise her into paying her son’s debts. But that doesn’t stop my colleague.

He begins to walk round the woman’s home, deliberately listing her possessions as though preparing to take them. He stops by her washing machine and carefully notes down its make.

“I haven’t done anything,” pleads the woman, adding that she is a retired pensioner. But what my fellow bailiff is doing has nothing to do with the law either, as he freely admits to me while the woman is out of hearing.

“We’re not allowed to take washing machines any more either but I list them anyway cos it pisses people off,” he says. “The washing machine is the main thing in their household, especially a lady’s household. Their washing machine is like the business.”

It works. The mother panics and phones her daughter. My colleague takes the phone. “Right what I will do,” he says. “I will do your mum a favour. We will leave this morning, but if it’s not paid by… this afternoon we will come back with a locksmith if necessary to remove the property.”

Again that is completely untrue, he can do no such thing. But it works. The fine gets paid.

I had expected to find rogue bailiffs. I had been told by one whistleblower – a bailiff for 20 years – that the business was riddled with illegal practices. What I found was more pervasive, more systematic, than I could ever have imagined.” – cont.

This is nothing short of an abuse of power and authority, similar to that of local councils and their parking practices, speeding fines, terror laws and bank charges. All are guilty of widespread corruption and ignore the ancient constitutional laws this country was built on.

There is something interesting about the power of money, and the blindness of the middle class to the plight of the poorest in society. Those who have been taken advantage of by banks with their advertising and overly-complicated calculated interest rates. Many people simply dismiss issues like this and say things like “they shouldn’t have got into that mess in the first place”.

A statement like that does not help the offender (victim), and it certainly isn’t the attitude a Christian, who believes themselves to be forgiven for their mess, should have. I warn any Christian who is reading this and has such an attitude, change it or I garauntee God will- usually his best tool is to give you experience- I speak from such.

Yes, the power of money. Why is it that in this country we accept that someone going overdrawn by £3 should get charged £30 each time? Why is it that we accept the police finding us guilty based on faulty technology, then offering nothing short of a legal bribe to get out of the uncomfortableness of court?

Our duty as Christians is to obey the authorities, which I interpret as obeying the laws of the land. But where does that leave us when the authorities abuse their power, oppress the poorest (intellectually, financially and socially) of society and do not follow their own laws. Surely, as Christians it is our duty to study the laws and then hold authorities to account and follow the letter of the law in order to see authorities put back in their place? It is our lax attitudes that have created a society such as this:

“There is little, I discovered, that can stand in the way of a determined bailiff – certainly not the law. Another bailiff there put it succinctly: “You are a legal thief,” he says.

And like thieves, many bailiffs quickly learn a basic skill – breaking and entering. After all, checking out the goods – even if they are not the debtors – is a lot easier when no-one is in.

The best I met was an ex-cop, now working for Drakes. He showed me how to break into a house in a few seconds, using a special gadget that left not a trace.

Another bailiff explained to me, they have no real fear of being caught breaking the law. After all it is usually simply the bailiff’s word against the debtors. “I’m a court officer,” he says. “Why shouldn’t they believe me.”

The fact is that most people don’t complain. Most people have no idea what a bailiff can and can’t do. All too often it is that ignorance which the ruthless bailiff will exploit.

But the end of the road came for me when I saw real damage being done. At Drakes, I was shadowing a bailiff known for going to any lengths to get paid. We were pursuing a fine that had been issued by the courts for an unpaid TV licence.

The debtor wasn’t in and nobody else at the house spoke English apart from the debtor’s kids. The bailiff told the young girls that when people don’t pay fines they can go to prison, and that was what could happen to their mother. The crying girls got the message. This was more than I could take.” BBC News – At debt’s door

Where is the Church?


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3 Responses to “[Rotten] Thick As Legal Thieves”

  1. This is completely irrelevant but I just saw that I made Honourable Mention. Thanks for the recognition!

  2. Steve said

    To be honest, I’m disgusted that a government is doing that. You see stuff like that in movies, but then agian, you have to think, “where do the movies get the ideas from?” Real life… it may sometimes be exaggerated or completely unreal, but the unreal stuff takes place in a galaxy far far away… hm.

    Makes me think. Thanks for the ‘current event’.

  3. […] only British bobbies and the very few (if any) honest bailiffs would step up to the plate here in the UK… unfortunately here in the UK we suffer from a […]

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