Can a bailiff go as far as taking your children?

It can be upsetting getting a visit from a bailiff, especially when you’re doing everything you can within your commitments to becoming debt-free.

Even more upsetting, though, is when you’re confronted by an unprofessional bailiff who believes they can muscle their way into your life and turn it upside down, using bad language and threats to make their point.

While a lot of bailiffs act perfectly within the law and are decent people doing their jobs, sadly there are a lot who believe being employed as a bailiff gives them the right to be heavy-handed.

Which is why, even with all the cases our team have heard over the years, we were especially shocked to read a recent report of a bailiff threatening to take away a lady’s children if she didn’t pay her bills.

The case was revealed by Ipswich Citizens Advice, who relayed the story of a vulnerable mother suffering from depression and anxiety after giving birth to her child.

The mother was in arrears with her council tax and was confronted by a bailiff. Her offer of a payment arrangement was refused without consideration – shockingly, according to the charity, the
mother was told that if she didn’t pay, she would be arrested and her child would be taken into care.

Ipswich Citizens Advice claim that that caused the vulnerable mother’s mental health to deteriorate even further and that, sadly, this case doesn’t appear to be a one-off.

“It was dreadful for the person involved and very frightening,” says Nelleke van Helfteren, deputy manager of Citizens Advice Ipswich.

“I wish I could say it was unusual. Increasingly bailiffs are being used to collect small amounts of money.”

The charity though has said that, over the course of the last two years, they’ve helped 196 people to deal with bailiffs for arrears including council tax, parking fines and more.

“What we want is clear regulation for bailiffs. There are clear ways in which people can be protected against malpractice but, at the moment, the regulation of bailiffs is not strong enough,” adds Ms van Helfteren.

“There’s a very clear link between indebtedness and mental health. We want bailiffs to understand the difference between the people who can’t pay and the people who won’t pay, or the people who can’t pay now.”

Clearly confiscating children is well beyond the remit of any bailiff to even suggest. Sadly though, not a lot of people may know that…

You have rights when you’re visited by a bailiff demanding money, and they have to follow a strict set of laws. Find out what they are and how to start on the road to becoming debt-free by speaking to the Get Bailiff Advice team today.

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