Bailiff collection figures revealed

More than 1.4 million cases a year have been reported of bailiffs being called to collect unpaid parking fines, civil liberties campaigners have revealed.

The fines mean extra expenditure for the motorists caught, which could lead to tighter budgeting to cope with the cost ofcar insurance. Cutting back on having to pay fines also keeps down the cost of motoring.

However, Big Brother Watch has criticised what it calls "bully-boy debt collection".

The 320 local authorities responding passed 1,411,086 cases for non-payment of fines for parking infringements, between 2007/08 and 2009/10. In the same period they passed 4,527,917 cases to third-party debt recovery agencies for the non-payment of council tax.

Big Brother Watch said local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales pass nearly 5,500 cases a day to debt recovery agencies, with Newham Council calling in debt collectors in 131,542 cases.

The group obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act. There had been concerns that bailiffs harass or intimidate debtors, as well as charge excessive fees and issue threats of imprisonment.

Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "The coalition Government must act now to end the culture of bully-boy debt collection. Sending in bailiffs to recover debts should always be the absolute last resort. The fact local councils have passed more than six million cases to bailiffs for matters as trivial as the late payment of council taxes and parking fines is truly shocking."

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