18 Apr A day in the life of an enforcement agent: vulnerability
A day in the life: how enforcement agents work with vulnerable people
This is the second post which looks at an enforcement agent’s typical day. In part one we followed the start of Danny’s day, in this post we take a look at a difficult case involving a vulnerable person.
Being an enforcement agent has many ups and downs, your job is flexible and well-paid but you also have to deal with difficult situations. Knowing how to identify these situations and resolve them is a key part of your role.
Identifying a complex case
In this post we follow Danny through what initially seems to be a simple case, that quickly becomes more complex…
“Being driven and self-motivated is a very important part of being an enforcement agent. I would say I have an excellent work ethic and the ability to identify situations and act within my remit quickly and efficiently; this gets me through tougher days.
“I’m a good communicator, responsive and I treat people with respect. This works 99% of the time as I assess a customer’s ability to deal with their court order or gather intelligence to make sure it is administered through the court process efficiently.
“Not all days begin with a potential ‘paid in full’ that you read about in the first article. A successful outcome is not necessarily a ‘paid in full’ case, every customer has an outcome to a case that is unique to them.”
“This next visit, not far from my last case, concerns a female who has been fined for not having a television licence. The case notes show we have made three previous visits to this address and contact is proving difficult.
“First, I check the property to give me an idea of the potential situation. Instead of approaching the door I walk past, noting some lights on upstairs. There are no cars directly outside but there is an extractor fan working to the side. On approaching the door, success! The door opens as the customer is taking her rubbish out.
“Lucky – but it happens.
“I address the customer directly, saying I know that she is Mrs X. She confirms she is and I quickly identify myself, tell her my BWV is on and inform her that I am here for the unpaid fine.
“I hear the common story, she says it’s being taken out of her benefits directly. I inform her we need to check that, as the case will not go away, and it needs to be sorted out.”
Making peaceful access
“To ensure the conversation continues, I make peaceful access onto the property, by stepping inside the door. I am aware she is a lone female and that I should approach the situation with care.
“It becomes very clear quickly that no payments are being deducted through her benefits and she is in severe debt. She provides bankruptcy, benefit forms, rent arrears letters and so on. I clarify, although I know the answer, if she has funds to pay or can have somebody assist her to pay, and she doesn’t.
“I take a look at items in the property but there are none of any value. This is a clear case of a customer who is vulnerable due to her financial position.
“In these situations, it is obvious that I can’t collect the fine, but you have an obligation to progress the case. I quickly call the office and they agree to have one of the fully-trained debt advisers from our welfare team call her.
“I later find out that the case was returned to the court with a full report and documentary evidence. It appeared that the lady was also a victim of domestic abuse and the court had cancelled the fine at a subsequent court hearing in the end, and she only paid a small amount of the costs and surcharge. We may not have collected the fine, but we did play our part in this judicial process.
“My tablet is updated with the outcome, as even though this was not paid, judicially a service has been delivered successfully.”
Training opportunities available
This case that Danny worked on required sensitivity and tact – enforcement isn’t always about force. His training, which teaches him to identify vulnerable people, was invaluable in this situation.
He was able to help the lady in question access debt advice and resolve the fine.
Any company employing enforcement agents will have a training process in place to ensure you are fully equipped to understand and identify vulnerable people.
Within our e-learning awareness module we provide training so you can get ahead before you apply for a role. This initial e-awareness will help you understand how to communicate with all kinds of people, which includes vulnerable people. Visit it our e-learning page which is coming soon to learn a bit more.
Onto the next case, a persistent motoring offender!