No Longer My Castle
Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors - Times Online
Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.
The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home.
“These laws strip away tried and tested protections that make a person’s home his castle, and which have stood for centuries,” said Paul Nicolson, chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a London-based welfare charity. “They could clearly lead to violent confrontations and undermine fundamental liberties.”
Bailiffs have for hundreds of years been denied powers to break into homes for civil debt or to use force against debtors, except in self-defence. In a famous declaration, William Pitt the Elder, the 18th-century prime minister, said: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown.”
More power to bailiffs is a thugs' charter | Ross Clark - Times Online
...Envying the freedoms enjoyed by 17th-century Englishmen. .. a clause buried inside the Victims of Crime and Domestic Violence Act 2004, giving bailiffs the right to break open the doors of debtors' homes. Not satisfied with that piece of legislation, the Government now wants to give bailiffs the right to push debtors from their doorways, drag them off their televisions and ease their grip on their children's dolls houses. The proposals are just a thugs' charter. Anyone can be a bailiff, you can be finishing a jail sentence for manslaughter one day and be out battering down doors on behalf of a debt-collection agency the next.
It is extraordinary how less free citizens are in this respect than they were 400 years ago. Medieval laws against overbearing bailiffs were confirmed in a case in 1604 between one Peter Semayne and the heirs of his deceased business partner George Beriford, with whom he owned a house in Blackfriars. The court ruled that the only agent empowered to break the lock on a citizen's door was a sheriff acting on behalf of the King. Last year a petition was presented to Number 10 pointing out that the Government had succeeded in reversing an ancient law protecting us against bands of privateers. In its attempt to defend this loss of liberty, No 10 replied by arguing that the 1604 Act discriminated against the poor, who “couldn't afford locks”.
That's all right then. We now live in a country where bailiffs can batter down our doors before making off with our possessions, but at least there is no discrimination against the poor. Forget to pay a parking fine or overlook a credit card bill and we are all equally at risk of waking up to hear our front doors being splintered by a bull-necked debt-collector.
Won't be abused, overseen by watchdog, my arse. Anyone laying a hand on my best china could very easily be mistaken for a burglar and reasonable steps taken to prevent him getting away with it.