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Discussing the future of civil enforcement

Russell Hamblin-Boone shares key discussions from the CIVEA Conference 2024

Russell Hamblin-Boone
03 May 2024
A panel debate at the CIVEA conference
Lord Lucas
Lord Lucas
Russell Hamblin-Boone
Russell Hamblin-Boone


The ways in which the civil enforcement sector is working to ensure debts are collected in a responsible manner were a key talking point at a major conference held in London last month.

The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) returned to the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms for a conference, exhibition and gala awards dinner. The conference brought together the enforcement industry, local government, the technology sector, civil service and debt charities to debate issues and share ideas on how, with increased demand for the highest standards, the industry can continue to support central and local government clients.

The theme of the conference was ‘Defining Modern Enforcement’, which signalled the need for debate on how the industry defines itself in the wake of the pandemic and what is required to meet the challenges faced by the public sector. It has been ten years since The Taking Control of Goods Regulations came into force, so the conference was also an opportunity to review the impact of the regulations and for the sector to ask itself what a future enforcement sector will look like.

Topical debates ranged from operational challenges such as responsible collections and smart enforcement to policy challenges, including independent oversight and sustaining a high calibre workforce.

Setting the scene

The day began with a message from Lord Bellamy, the justice minister, who thanked the industry delegates for their important work. Lord Bellamy spoke of his desire for fair treatment of people with debt and his support for the innovative use of technology. He was grateful for the industry’s proactivity in supporting the Enforcement Conduct Board (ECB).

The keynote speech was delivered by Lord Lucas, chair of the Enforcement Law Review Group, who confessed to being a convert to the industry having previously been critical. He spoke of the reform programme that has led to collaboration on an independent oversight body and its importance for the evolution of our sector.

Panel 1: The impact of technology on collections and vulnerability

The morning panel sessions focussed on the use of technology. The first session highlighted the development of technology solutions that has become integral to modern enforcement.

  • Chair: Carole Kenney, director, welfare, road traffic and road user charging, CDER Group
  • Nick Rowe, IRRV president and assistant director, revenues and payments, Ealing Borough Council
  • Darren Kelk, managing director, Ascendant Solutions
  • Vanessa Northam, head of charity development, StepChange
  • Darren Smith, head of transformation, Liberata

Panel 2: Data is the key to unlock smart enforcement

The panel discussed how data is being used in modern enforcement and predicted how it will support enforcement action in the future.

  • Chair: John Mason, managing director, TRACE Group
  • Dan Pearce, director of business development, TelSolutions
  • Justin Hanna, head of direct sales, Acquired
  • Richard Hanby, technical director, Ascendant Solutions

Panel 3: Preparing for Independent supervision

After lunch the focus turned to industry supervision and the challenges of professionalising our industry. CIVEA’s new president, Sarah Naylor, led a panel that considered best practice from other sectors.

  • Chair: Sarah Naylor, sales director, Dukes Bailiffs
  • Chris Nichols, chief executive, Enforcement Conduct Board
  • Caroline Wells, founder of Different Petal and CIVEA CARE Panel member
  • Joseph Surtees, head of standards and continuous improvement, Government Debt Management Function, HM Treasury
  • Anna Roughley, head of insight and engagement, Lending Standards Board

Panel 4: Beyond the ECB: Professionalising our sector

The final session was an in-depth discussion on the challenges for an enforcement industry seeking recognition as a skilled profession. Topics included diversity in the workforce, staff welfare and training.

  • Chair: Amy Collins, managing director, Rundles
  • Sue Chapple, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Credit Management
  • Deven Ghelani, director of Policy in Practice
  • Muna Yassin, chief executive, Rooted Finance

Russell Hamblin-Boone is CEO of CIVEA

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