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CCR2 Affordability Assessments & Vulnerability

The missing piece for training enforcement agents

Should vulnerability training be made compulsory for all enforcement agents?

Alan Smith Director – corporate governance, High Court Enforcement Group

As you might expect, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Money Advice Liaison Group, CAB and other organisations have made representations to the Ministry of Justice to have mandatory vulnerability training for enforcement agents.

But you might be a little more surprised to learn that this view is fully shared by High Court Enforcement Group, who have championed mental health and vulnerability awareness and quality marked vulnerability training within the enforcement industry for many years.

Policies and practice

It is one thing to have vulnerability policies in place, but quite another to ensure that your employees and agents really understand, and can identify, those who are vulnerable, and know how to handle those situations. For us, policies alone were never sufficient: we have recently developed a regulated Level 3 Award in ‘Vulnerability and Mental Health Awareness in Relation to Enforcement Practices’.

The qualification forms part of a larger Level 3 course in ‘Taking Control of Goods and Civil Enforcement’, that we have also developed. These bespoke Level 3 courses are the first in the country to be validated by a regulated qualification, sitting on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). The training in the awareness of vulnerability and mental health was evaluated


across 23 indicators for the Quality Mark, including learner engagement, equality and diversity, delivery planning and preparation, quality assurance, and delivery expertise, by the Ofqual accredited national awarding body, Agored Cymru.

Quality Mark

The Quality Mark is an endorsement and celebration of outstanding practice in delivering learning and, in January 2017, Agored Cymru awarded us the Quality Mark in vulnerability training.

In notification of the award, Agored Cymru’s director of Quality, Standards & Regulations said: “We would like to take the opportunity to commend you for the high

Awareness of vulnerability and mental health should be a fundamental component in the enforcement agent’s toolbox, not only

enforcement agents, but also administration staff involved in civil enforcement

level of quality and effort that has clearly been put in to designing, implementing, and quality marking this course that so importantly raises awareness of vulnerability and mental health.”

Amongst other aspects, the award covers gaining explicit consent to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, using the five components of the TEXAS acronym, and the compass technique for structuring an interview when dealing with people with mental ill-health.

People suffering in this regard are, unfortunately, often more susceptible to falling into a cycle of illness and debt.

Significant requirements

There are significant legal requirements on enforcement agents, including compliance with the Mental Health Capacity Act 2005, Equality Act 2010, Data Protection Act 1998, Tribunals Courts & Enforcement Act 2007, European Convention on Human Rights (Article 14), and the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014. It is important to note that the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 do not prohibit the taking control of goods where a person is 'vulnerable' and the law does allow enforcement against vulnerable people, but this must be done in a fair and appropriate manner.

Protection for vulnerable debtors is provided by Regulations 10 and 23 of the

March 2017

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