Public Perception of Enforcement in England and Wales

In order to better understand the public perception of enforcement and enforcement agents (bailiffs) in England and Wales, we commissioned an independent survey of the general public in spring 2024.

Results

Overall, the data and the feedback from the respondents showed strong support for fair and effective enforcement as part of the judicial system:

  • 83% agreed or strongly agreed that fair and effective enforcement is a necessary part of the justice system.
  • 72% thought unpaid debt would increase without fair and effective enforcement.
  • There is strong public support for body worn video cameras – 88% thought it’s important that all enforcement agents wear them.
  • Fairness to all involved – debtors and creditors – is a really important principle that is clear throughout the results and data.
  • A majority of people said they trust ‘the judicial system’ to set and enforcement agents to follow the appropriate rules – but there was a minority who don’t.

As an Association we and our members are committed to continuing to act in a responsible way that helps creditors, informs debtors and supports government at all times. Our focus is on ensuring and delivering a fair and effective enforcement system for all involved.

Government action is needed to ensure enforcement is properly funded

Alan J. Smith, Chair of the HCEOA, said: “This data shows there is strong support from the general public for a fair and effective enforcement. The good news is that there is agreement from government, the profession, and the public around shared outcomes that everyone wants, such as vulnerable debtors remaining properly supported and creditors receiving the full amount owed to them.”

“The challenge for policymakers and civil servants is to make sure that enforcement is funded properly to deliver this. We’re still awaiting the implementation of a first fee increase in ten years, with the strong likelihood of system and/or fee structure reform to go alongside it, so we’re at a critical point for the profession.”

He added: “There are three steps government can take quickly to ensure we keep a fair and effective enforcement system in England and Wales:

  • Implement its own recommended 5% increase in enforcement fees which was proposed in summer last year and will be a first fee increase in ten years.
  • Set up and deliver a regular fee review mechanism linked to inflation. The Ministry of Justice recognised the need for this last year so we’re hopeful it will be introduced soon.
  • Ensure any further reforms to the enforcement system proposed after last year’s wide-ranging consultation are carefully considered and properly funded. The 5% fee increase addresses a historical challenge, but it doesn’t create a ‘fighting fund’ to tackle new challenges.

You can download our two-page results factsheet here (PDF)

You can download a more detailed summary here (PDF)


Objectives

In completing this research, we wanted to:

  • ensure the Association, our members and our wider stakeholders have a data driven understanding of how people in England and Wales perceive enforcement.
  • provide some insight into how people view about specific issues like enforcement fees and body worn video cameras.
  • have current data about public perception of enforcement that can be shared with others and help inform ongoing conversations about the future.
  • obtain quantitative data to set a benchmark to measure and analyse changing perceptions over time.

Methodology

The research was undertaken by independent research company Norstat.

The eight-question survey was sent out to Norstat’s independent panel by email and completed by a representative sample of 2,000 members of the general public in England and Wales between 26th March and 3rd April 2024.

We talked specifically about enforcement where ‘people and businesses are owed money’ and used the terms “enforcement” and “enforcement agent/bailiff” to keep it simple.

You can find the initial survey results provided by Norstat here.

Choose a High Court Enforcement Officer

Browse our members' list or search for a High Court Enforcement Officer

Latest News

‘Fair and effective enforcement’ has strong support from the public

‘Fair and effective enforcement’ has strong support from the public

In its first ever public perception research, the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) found there is strong support from the general public for a fair and effective enforcement... Read more
High Court Enforcement Officers Association shares expertise at Viet Nam conference on asset recovery and enforcement efficiency

High Court Enforcement Officers Association shares expertise at Viet Nam conference on asset recovery and enforcement efficiency

Delegates from the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) were invited to Viet Nam to share their expertise as key speakers in a conference on enforcement. Read more
HCEOA is observing International Fraud Awareness Week

HCEOA is observing International Fraud Awareness Week

The High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) is backing International Fraud Awareness Week and urging anyone who thinks they have been contacted by someone pretending to be a High Court... Read more

hceoa logo footer