Enforcement has never been a job for the faint hearted, but it does seem to be getting more dangerous. More and more frequently, we are sending two people to enforce cases, either two officers, or an officer and a porter. In an ideal world, we would only need one, but the threats are increasingly turning to violence.
This is unacceptable – enforcement officers are simply doing a job, executing a writ that has been awarded in court. The officer does not decide the rights or wrongs of any case – the judge does that.
I would like to share with you a shocking example of this violence, as experienced by one of our officers just last week. This is the report our officer submitted after his visit:
“As I walked down the drive I could see the debtor through the windows in the back garden; it was the same person who had lied to me about his identity on a previous visit. I knocked on the door and a young male answered.
After I asked for the debtor, the young male went to the back of the house to get him, leaving the door open. As I walked in through the open door, I could hear the debtor saying 'tell him I'm not here'. I stuck my head outside and introduced myself to the debtor and showed him my ID.
I went round the property to assess the goods and I noted the debtor walk out of the house with a large black bag and hide it in the hedge. I went to pick up a brief case and the debtor pushed me out of the way and grabbed the brief case and gave it to the younger male who hid it in the chicken coop in the rear garden. I warned both of them that they were committing offences by removing the goods that I had seized.
The younger male became very abusive. Then I felt someone grab my shoulder and spin me round. I was punched very hard in my left eye, with my glasses on; these landed on the floor.
As I staggered back, the debtor who had punched me grabbed my camera and ripped it off my head. I retreated into the room I had been walking toward and the debtor followed and again punched me. Soon both of them were punching me, and I was hitting back in self-defence.
Then the debtor rushed out of the room, only to reappear almost immediately with a large carving knife in his hand, coming toward me. I closed the door and tried to hold it shut, but it was a slippery floor and he forced the door open.
The debtor came into the room and, without hesitation, tried to stab me in the stomach. I twisted away and it caught my jacket, so he tried to stab me in the face. I moved my head out of the way, but the tip made a two inch gash on my cheek, and, as he pulled the knife back, it made a further three inch gash under my jaw line.
I grabbed my phone and folder and left the property and called 999. The police attended and the debtor was arrested. I then went to the station to give a statement.”