CIVEA training portal refreshes knowledge and enhances safety.
Welcome to our blog series, exploring the key topics being discussed in the enforcement industry. Today we look at the recently revised guidance in the COVID-19 Support Plan and updated training, considering how this supports efforts to provide reassurance in the enforcement process.
Along with updated guidance in its COVID-19 Support Plan, CIVEA has launched a new training module to reinforce the latest government guidance for enforcement agents on working safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The training has been devised in conjunction with CDER Group and provides refresher training on COVID-19 safety as well as the identification and support of vulnerable people.
In practical terms, enforcement agents are already well versed on the most important aspects of coronavirus safety measures, such as using and disposing of PPE, as this has become integral to their daily work. The refresher training will promote best practice and ensure that standards remain high as the new procedures become normal practice. There has been no indication of standards slipping and complaint levels remain low and any complaints registered are dealt with quickly. On rare occasions disciplinary action has been taken where agents have contravened the guidance.
Our focus on refreshing knowledge is a response to the dynamic nature of the crisis. Training has been constantly reviewed and updated as issues are identified. For example, we have provided new advice on handling cash when people have no other means to pay their debt and what agents should do when masks cause communication difficulties, especially for people who are visually impaired or do not have English as a first language. Lessons have been learnt from the findings shared in our detailed report, based on the experiences of 21 enforcement firms and their field agents after enforcement visits resumed last year.
In recognition of the likelihood that enforcement agents will encounter higher levels of vulnerability from people affected by the pandemic, the training programme includes comprehensive refresher training. Much of the module covers what has been standard procedure for welfare teams, including TEXAS, IDEA and BRUCE techniques. Particular emphasis has been placed on identifying and assisting people with poor mental health. The training also includes tangential topics, such as serious and long-term illness, suicide, gambling and addiction, which impact on people’s financial and health status and has been exacerbated during the lockdown restrictions.
Safety remains our number one priority during the coronavirus pandemic and evidence suggests that the precautions CIVEA members have implemented since resuming enforcement have been successful. Consequently, enforcement activity has been deemed safe by the government to continue. In addition to CIVEA training, government guidance called ‘Working safely during COVID-19: enforcement agents (bailiffs)’ is available on Gov.uk and continues to reflect the latest public health advice. We follow this guidance and the rules set out in the National Standards for Taking Control of Goods, ensuring all members act in accordance with relevant legislation.
We were encouraged to see the confidence shown in enforcement activity by the Secretary of State for Justice, who communicated to us this month that he is “grateful for all the work that the sector has undertaken in order to ensure that enforcement agents operate safely.” This level of reassurance should provide confidence to other government ministers, local authorities and the general public that enforcement activity remains safe, appropriate and essential.
Our members have a crucial role to play in supporting local authorities to recover overdue debts that fund essential services for the most vulnerable people in our communities. To view the latest guidance for enforcement agents, please visit our dedicated web page.
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