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Court bailiffs to strike over privatisation plans
4:15pm Wednesday 27th February 2013 in News
COURT bailiffs are to go on strike this Friday (March 1) over plans to privatise their work.
The Public and Commercial Services union claims that the government wants to sell off the criminal enforcement section of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), allowing private bailiffs to collect and administer fines imposed by the courts.
As well as fears over cuts to pay and working conditions, it is said that the walkout from 7am, will highlight the threats to this public service.
The union says this will include a much lower collection rate by private bailiffs. MoJ staff currently collect more than 90 per cent of fines, while the success rates of private firms used by some courts is around 20 per cent.
They also claim that private companies will ‘cherry-pick’ cases where it is easier to collect and return more difficult cases after several months without resolution. Citizens Advice and MPs offices have allegedly reported stories of harassment and pressure from private bailiffs in recent years, particularly from vulnerable groups such as older people and those with mental health issues.
The union also says that private companies are not subject to the same strict regulation as existing public sector workers and the government’s crime and courts bill currently going through parliament does not propose an effective legal process of accountability, instead favouring industry self-regulation.
Also, while MoJ civil servants do not have access to personal data held by other government departments, the bill would give these powers to private bailiffs.