Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here's a shock for you!  According to the BBC, the CAB says that "Councils allow bailiff aggression", says Citizens Advice.  So underwhelmed by this "news", I almost passed out.  But of course we only get half the story from our third rate media.  It's not just the councils who allow it.  I now have it in writing from "Investigator" (using the term loosely) Peter Miller, of Avon and Somerset Plod, stating that they have no intention of of investigating on the basis that the court granted the council a liability order, and so as far as the plod are concerned, bailiffs are no longer bound by the law.  (and they wonder why I have ZERO intention of paying my council tax any time soon!)

I will publish the letter as soon as I have access to a scanner.  The reason I did not publish sooner was because the content of it was of such blood-boiling, lazy, illiterate, bovine stupidity that I've had to detach myself from the whole thing for a short while, in order to curve my Anders Breivik instincts if anything else.  If these people were massacred in a hail of bullets, I would not lose any sleep and might even permit myself a little smile.  But the arrival of this illiterate scrawl was no coincidence.  One of my readers brought my attention to this which says roughly the same thing.  One doesn't need a tinfoil hat to suspect foul play here.

Peter Miller says I can "pursue the matter civilly" (sic).  However, my dear Mr Miller, it is not a civil matter.  Fraud is a criminal matter, and I shall be anything BUT civil when I come for them, and you.  And when I done with them in January, I will be making a formal complaint and will move for a mark of professional incompetence to be put on your record.  At the very least you should be stripped of your title of "investigator" since you have done no such thing.  But I suppose this is going to happen when real plod delegate their work to the tea boy.  I think DI Stainer should also answer for shirking her police duties. 

With respect to this years council tax bill, I have had the obligatory spam "Notice of intended action" from Rundles, though in the snail mail rather than a visit.  If it wasn't evidence, it would go in the bin.  They state "the above amount must be paid in full" without actually bothering to write on the amount owed.  So Rundles haven't changed their practices very much, if at all.  Though there is still no sign of them this year so I expect they are thinking twice about a visit to MY door.  And that's probably a good idea.  This year I know my rights.  And if they think they can get away with what they tried on last year, I will re-educate them in the most vociferous manner.  I have a legal precedent that shows physical intervention to prevent a bailiff unlawfully clamping a vehicle is not assault.  Though I wasn't afraid of a criminal record last year and I am even less so this year.  Bring it.

On a final note, I would like to thank all my readers this year whose support and encouragement has really made the difference, without which I might have thrown in the towel.  I will fight these bastards.  And I will go on fighting them.  A very merry Christmas to you and yours.

Friday, 25 October 2013


Just a note to say this battle is still ongoing.  The hearing has been delayed until January and I still intend on fighting these thieving parasite scum.  A document has come into my possession that means Rundles, the Police and SGC should be concerned.  I will be looking for damages from all three.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Still here...

Just so you know, I have a court date for 26th September 2013.  I haven't gone away.  Meanwhile the investigation into the criminal activities of Rundles (for which SGC is also liable) goes on. 

Dear DI Stainer,

I have contacted the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities/Minister for Local Government, Mr Brandon Lewis MP.

Below is a photo of the pertinent part of his letter.

The precise regulation is here...

45.—(1) Where a liability order has been made, the authority which applied for the order may levy the appropriate amount by distress and sale of the goods of the debtor against whom the order was made.

That is to say that the "levy" of my Audi is not by any means the "appropriate amount", for fees which are not even provable.  You may add that to the list of charges against Rundles.

Many thanks,

Peter North.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Comedy gold

Some days this feels like more hassle than it's worth.  Today is not one of them.  An eagle-eyed reader reminded me of a forum post I made some weeks ago on the excellent  It seems not everyone is a supporter.  I'm being trolled by someone with the user name "truthful and honest".
I believe that the action Avenger took has been confirmed as ILLEGAL and he now has a criminal record (if he didn't already have one before) People like you should just pay what is owed, rather than wasting your energies trying to wriggle out of paying what is fair and just. Shame on you
"Fair and just" would be a lawful charge for the liability order and fees as outlined in Schedule 5 of the The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Act  - that, and clamping with lawful authority.  Neither the council nor the bailiffs saw fit to obey the law as I have previously outlined here ad nauseum.

Our troll continues...
My only problem with Avenger would be that he is not putting the facts. Why should he be allowed to slander someone with no redress. I dont have a personal problem with him, just forums like this one and the lies he is spouting.
Of course, there is plenty of opportunity for redress.  If Rundle & Co believe this is slander, then they can either take me to small claims court for their fees or take civic action.  They would of course have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that their charges were lawful and they had lawful authority to clamp.  Hold my breath I will not.  They continue...
Im not a Bailiffs biggest fan, believe me, and I am sure some can be corrupt, but this forum has just turned into a witch hunt. Its sickening.  I accept there are people out there who may have genuine points to make, but when you listen to idiots like Avenger, who HAS been proven in the wrong, you are only demeening (sic) yourself, and your point.
You can read my response on their forum.  This individual seems to know more than they are letting on. I wonder why that is?   I looked at this trolls posting history and they have only made five posts, all of which are on this specific thread.  

Course, being a programmer and a php forum administrator, I posses a certain degree of skill and was able to determine "Truthful and honest" is none other than "Nicky Spring" posting from her Hotmail account - AKA Nicola Spring, of Rundle & Co. - The phantom visitor herself! - and their main witness.

No doubt since she is "truthful and honest", she will return to the forum and outline exactly why she thinks persons such as I are "lying through their teeth"?  I'm only going off their case log file in the trial pack.  If I am in error, perhaps Ms Spring should take better care to take truthful notes.  I will be sure to press her on this the next time I cross examine her in the witness box.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

"No further emails will be responded to"

Just the other day I received a letter in the post from Rundles.  It was their standard "Notice of intended proceedings."  As it was in relation to the liability order from last year, I asked the council for clarification.
Dear Mr North,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 31st July 2013.

Any ongoing dispute with the bailiffs is with yourself and them; however I have contacted Rundles and checked the remaining balance that is owed is £280.50 which is bailiff costs that were incurred when the debt was passed to them for collection. Please make payment to them to settle the outstanding balance or if you do not wish to contact Rundles then you can make payment to us and we can then advise Rundles accordingly.


Mr Paul Mooney
Senior Recovery Officer
Bailiffs cannot levy for fees (especially unlawful fees), and if they do, they are committing an offence.  They have no court authority to levy for fees, but this does not concern SGC.  They are happy for their contractors to harass and to break the law.  I warned them that failure to call them off would result in court action against SGC.  Here is their reply...

Dear Mr North

I would like to confirm that your Complaint was handled correctly and the outcome was, it not being upheld, and you were found liable.

The letter sent to you dated 27th February 2013, advises you of this and it also states on the final paragraph that if you were still dis satified with the outcome, then you could within 20 days, request to go to stage 2 of the Councils Complaint Procedure, stating the reason why you are dis satisfied and also advising of a resolution.

This you did not do.

No further emails will be responded to, they will however be noted on your account.

Please make arrangements to pay the debt outstanding.

I trust this clarifies the situation.
This overlooks the fact they were sent a long and detailed email asking for clarification for the exact lawful authority by which they clamped my car - and evidence of the alleged first visits.   They did not reply.  Quelle surprise!  But SGC are satisfied.  Their idea of an investigation is to forward a copy of my complaint to the bailiffs and allow them to investigate themselves, wash their hands of it - and to take their word for it that visits were made when there is no evidence of them having done so on the alleged dates.

SGC's recovery department have been deliberately obstructive from the beginning.  But I am neither surprised nor troubled by this.  As far as I'm concerned they're just digging themselves deeper into the hole.  I now have it in writing that they will no longer respond to communication regarding this case.  The message is loud and clear.  Now they have their money, they are not interested in serving the public - but now they consider this matter resolved, that can only mean any authority to collect that the bailiffs once had has now expired.  They have now made themselves liable for any further criminal activity by Rundles.  This is going to cost them a lot of money should Rundles continue their action.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

What does it take?

Well it seems I have rattled a few cages.  After the last exchange with the plod, it now seems an investigation is warranted.  I suspect it to be a box ticking exercise, but I shall withhold my cynicism for now.  I won't publish the original email from the plod because the extrapolations in my reply below gives you a fair idea of what they said.  This is about to get interesting.
Dear DI Stainer,
Thank you for your email.  Unfortunately for both of us, I have a few points to make, and for transparency, I have copied in my barrister.
You highlight from the explanatory notes of the Protection of Freedoms Act: "In addition, bailiffs have a mix of statutory and common law powers to immobilise and tow away vehicles for the purposes of enforcing debts (including those arising out of unpaid taxes and court fines)"
You have not identified which statutory and common law powers those are.  Clamping rights largely pertain to parking and traffic enforcement - and council tax recovery is an entirely separate strata of law.  Unless you know different, there is no basis in law that permits clamping in relation to council tax enforcement - especially in pursuit of bailiff fees after the debt to the council was settled.  The explanatory notes do not explicitly grant lawful authority in relation to council tax enforcement.  Common law only provides for a car to be levied and a walking possession agreement to be made.  They did not have lawful authority to clamp.  Additionally, if a bailiff leaves a premises without taking the seized goods or vehicle (or leaves a wheel clamp on the vehicle unattended), the levy becomes what is called, an abandoned levy, thus I was entirely within my rights to remove it and they have committed an offence.
Furthermore, when you say "I have reviewed the legislation that you have provided under the Council Tax (administration and Enforcement) regulation 1992, and the Government guidance on enforcement. This states that a reasonable fee can be applied for making a visit to premises with a view to levying distress (whether the levy is made or not)”.  I am familiar with that particular law.  It's as clear as mud due to the extended amendments and supplementary fee schedules.  You are quoting the obsolete part of the law.  The law has since been amended:

In Schedule 5 (charges connected with distress)—
(a)in column (2) of the Table in paragraph 1—
(i)in the row corresponding to head A(i) of column (1), for “£22.50” substitute “£24.50”,
(ii)in the row corresponding to head A(ii) of column (1), for “£16.50” substitute “£18.00”,
To save you the bother, and you can verify this on ANY bailiff advice website you like; a bailiff may only charge £24.50 for the first visit and £18 for the second.  Further fees can only consist of levy fees - "reasonable costs and fees incurred": to which there is no "reasonable" basis for an extra fee of £150 when no levy has been made.  It is also a conveniently round number wouldn't you say?

Furthermore, paragraph 62 of Complaint numbers 95A01890 and 95A04826 against London Borough of Ealing the Local Government Ombudsman disallowed such fees because no goods had been levied. These fees were also disallowed in the Local Government Ombudsman's report of 29 November 2012. It is akin with charging for work not done and thus is fraud by false representation.  At the time of meeting their first bailiff, no goods had been levied, thus there was no basis in law for a levy fee.  THAT is fraud.
Assuming you could find a justification in law for such fees it is STILL redundant on the basis that the debt was paid just after the second PROVABLE visit.  There is no proof whatsoever that the bailiffs visited on the 22nd October or the 25th October.  All we have is the statement by Nicola Spring that she visited but she states there was no-one home - so we only have her word for it that visits were actually made.  Besides which, In their case log, they state on the 23rd Oct 2012:...

"Visit fee(s): 24.50. door: white. Lock: Yale. Desc: Semi-detached.  The bailiff called to the property, no reply.  Letter left." 

There is no letter of any kind, nor is my lock a Yale lock and the description of the property does not take into account that mine is a top floor flat of a semi-detached.  I suspect all they did was send out a runner to the house to make basic observations; a fairly typical bailiff tactic.  You will also note from their notes that they "levied" on 19/11/12 - so how is it that they could charge levy fees at any point prior to this date?

You ask that I prove they did not visit on the first two alleged dates, which is not possible - but given the evidence at hand, there is no evidence they did.  The only visits we can verify are those both parties admit to.  The only visits that can be legitimately verified were on 1/11/12 and 16/11/12 - to which both parties agree.  The letter posted on 1/11/12 had an immediate mark-up of £192.50 (prior to the levy date in their records) - which is not in any way lawful for a first visit, and I can bore you at length with multiple government sources that says so if needs be.  Trust me, I'm more bored by this than you are because I've had to write this a dozen times since January to get the police to investigate.  Because the debt was paid immediately after the second provable visit, the maximum they could charge is £42.50 and would I have paid it had they billed me for that amount.  But there is no way in hell I am going to give way to fraud.
Lastly, and please forgive the clumsy formatting of this email (I'm hating writing it as much as you are reading it) -but to quote your email...

"The Government guidance that you provided set out the power that the bailiffs work under and make it clear that the responsibility is that of the Local Authority. Any complaints that are to be made regarding fee’s should be made to the Council in the first instance who have a duty to investigate this properly. As a result of their investigation if there is evidence of unlawful attendance fee’s then we will view their findings and consider taking action under the Fraud Act as outlined by 5.8 of the guidance which you highlighted.  I will therefore ensure that an officer makes contact with South Gloucestershire to review their investigation in relation to the fee’s charged to establish whether they have breached the legislation and whether there is a case to answer. Also if you are able to provide us with evidence that a visit did not take place then this is something that we can look into."
I have already outlined the basis of the phantom visits.  As to South Glos. Council, I don't expect you will get very far with that in that they are up to their necks in it as well, since they upheld the fees for the "phantom visits" without even examining the evidence I presented to them.  The relationship between South Gloucestershire Council and Rundles is a little too cosy for my liking.  Rather than addressing my complaint about their contractors, as is their obligation, they merely forwarded my complaint to the bailiffs who issued a press release style reply.  In short, SGC did not conduct an investigation at all.  All I got was a cursory reply from a recovery officer a few moments after my original complaint.  It is not for a junior recovery officer to adjudicate on matters of law.  That is for the police and for the courts.  The council will spin the same garbage they told me - and your investigation would be sloppy if you merely took their word for it.  - And if you do, I will visit consequences up Avon & Somerset Police should I find even the slightest irregularity in your investigation. It sounds as though you are willing to accept anything the council says as an unassailable truth, when they are essentially complicit in this fraud themselves.

During the trial regarding the clamp removal, I pressed both witnesses from Rundles to supply EXACT copies of the letters posted through my door, but they were unable to do so since they only use a standard proforma and hastily scribble in biro (at the door) an amount they think they can justify using industry sophistry - without even recording the amounts they charge.  When your investigator visits, I will be able to demonstrate this since I am the only holder of this particular evidence.  This is why I am been so adamant that you investigate because hitherto this exchange, no police officer has examined the evidence.
Meanwhile, I would like to thank you for your efforts so far.  It has been an uphill battle over many months to get the police to take this seriously and I look forward to the conclusion of this matter.  It is long past the time these predatory bandits were held to account for their misdeeds.
Yours sincerely,

Peter North.

Monday, 29 July 2013

SGC: Half-arsed, lazy, incomplete and wrong.

I have asked SGC to outline their spending and revenues by year for the last ten years, broken down between business rates, council tax, central funding and all other revenues from fines, forfeitures and charges.  It is my belief that the latter category now exceeds any other form of income - and some of the data they sent seems to confirm that.  However, as expected, the reply was half-arsed, lazy, incomplete and wrong.  They had not bothered to properly read the request or to adequately respond to it.  But why break a habit of a lifetime?

I would attempt to to trawl their own accounts myself but they make a habit of varying the format regularly and using opaque terms without proper explanation of each strand of data.  In effect, you have to be a public sectoroid accountant to make any sense of it, and that's how they prefer it.

The reason for such a request is that there is a referendum lock on all council tax increases, whereby if a council wishes to increase its revenue by more than 2% they must obtain the direct consent of the people.  In the face of that inconvenient obstacle known as democracy, rather than obey they law, they have simply walked around it, and now leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a quick buck - where no law shall stand in the way of their unbridled lust for the private wealth of the public.

I have asked SGC to properly complete the request but as yet have heard nothing - and don't expect to either.  In light of this I felt compelled to do a little basic research of my own.  I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the chart below with it being based on my own limited extrapolations from the published documentation, but if these figures are true then it raises more questions than answers.

For all the protestations in the media of "cash strapped councils", we can see they are anything but, and in spite of a massive leap in revenues, most likely from dishonest charges and fines, they still manage to spend more than they steal.  Do you recall consenting to this?  I don't.

It is for that reason I consider it a moral obligation to delay and withhold council tax for as long as possible, and it is why I make it a point to make it cost them to collect it.  So far this saga has involved the Police Commissioner, my MP, a senior official in the Fraud office, two senior plod, six junior plod, several recovery officers, a clerk of the court, an accounts manager, three magistrates, four bailiffs, three recovery officers, two police cars, a pursuit down the M42, a missing wheel clamp and a broken padlock - all over nine months.  And I only just submitted the court appeal yesterday.  This isn't over.

Yes, in the end I paid my council tax, but by my ready reckoning, it has cost the local authorities several thousand pounds to extract their £1178.  As it stands presently, it will require six years or more of my council tax just to cover the costs of collecting last years sum - and it won't cost me a penny, whether I win in court or not.

So I say to SGC, it's cheaper all round if you actually investigate bailiff fraud and insist that your contractors obey the law, stop ripping off the poor with liability order charges, and while you're at it, learn to live within your means and stop dishonestly evading the democratic process.  And if you're still not getting the message, wait and see what I have in store for you next year.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A delivery of bovine excretal matter.

I sometimes think there is a factory somewhere that churns out Stepford-esque public officials, all designed with the same narrow set of parameters, which explains the basic lack of imagination, humanity, attention to detail, personality and comprehension skills.  Today I received an absolutely classic piece of corporate-speak drivel from an evidently senior police official.  You could be forgiven for thinking this was from a press officer - because in effect, that's all senior officials are now; apologists for the pyramid of ineptitude and indifference that lies beneath them.  Take a look at this...
Dear Mr North,

I have been asked to respond to your e mail to the PCC Office dated 19th June 2013. Please accept my apology for the delay in responding due to leave and other operational commitments.

I have reviewed the information that you have provided and I understand that you have reported the matter to Action Fraud. You will be aware that the role of Action Fraud is to work with a range of partners with the aim of making fraud more difficult to commit in the UK. This approach will work to tackle fraud across the spectrum but also works on identifying fraud types and fraud issues that are a notable problem. This will ensure that the fight against fraud in the UK is a coordinated one.

Unfortunately, the Police are unable to investigate every report of fraud individually, but the information provided will build the intelligence picture about fraud. All fraud reports are utilised by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to inform the wider intelligence picture and identify emerging threats to the country which are then referred for investigation.

In your case, I am aware that there is an ongoing civil matter that was due in Court on 12th July in respect of which you were advised by PC 2803 Williams to await the outcome of that case prior to a final decision by Avon & Somerset Constabulary on your complaint. It may be that your communication to the office of the PCC crossed with that conversation with PC Williams and I anticipate that following the outcome of that hearing you will be in contact with PC Williams should you wish further consideration to be made.

I understand that you are not satisfied by the response that you have received from your report to Action Fraud. I can only reiterate the response that you have previously received from Mrs Mountstevens. I have recently taken responsibility as the force lead for Action Fraud and the issue of feedback to victims of fraud following a report to Action Fraud is something that has been raised with the NFIB and the Action Fraud National Force Liaison Manager. Whilst the response you have received from Action Fraud has been agreed with the victim support service, please be assured that we value your feedback and will seek to utilise that feedback in improving the service provided.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Kirstie Cogram
Financial Investigation & Economic Crime
Serious & Organised Crime Group
ex. 66641
Tel: 01275 816641 / 07920 757908

My first thoughts were "is this a wind up?"  They know perfectly well by now that this wasn't a civil matter.   The part highlighted tells you this automoton has only examined the case in the most cursory sense.  The plod did not at any point state that an investigation was dependent on the outcome of the trial.  I would have torn strips off them if they had.  The CPS even agreed to an adjournment of the trial on the basis that it was our understanding an investigation was in progress.  She has essentially re-stated what I already know from the pig-ignorant and lazy response of the the plod.  I really don't know why they bother.

The short hand version of this letter is "Dear Mr North, I'm too busy counting paper-clips to look at your case and I don't understand it anyway - but because I'm very important I will cobble together a few key phrases from the public sector bullshit handbook and then tell you to basically fuck off."

That's fine.  I didn't expect much.  Expecting a public official to do their job is like expecting a cat to bark, but I'd have preferred the honest version just to save time.  That said, such casual insolence deserves a somewhat verbose reply - and since so much of this is now pre-written thanks to this blog, it's very little effort on my part to do so.

Dear Dr Cogram,

Thank you for your email. I quite agree that the police cannot investigate every report of fraud individually, however in this instance, I was in possession of hard evidence, yet the police refused to even accept a complaint. The only way I was able to get a crime number was to use the action fraud website and pursue it further from there.

The reason the police neglected their duty in this matter is that there seems to be an internal directive to treat advance fee fraud by bailiffs as a civil matter, in spite of several statements from the government since 2007 that fee fraud is indeed a criminal offence. Though Mrs Mountstevens herself initially maintained it was a civil matter, Advance Fee Fraud has never been a civil matter (as the police maintain) and it is only in light of the recent guidelines from the DCLG that I was able to get any movement at all in the direction of a proper investigation.

So up until the arrival of the Action Fraud website, there was no possible means of reporting bailiff fraud, which means the authorities collectively have little or no telemetry or intelligence on this kind of crime. Even your own website does not list bailiff fraud as a category and one is expected to know the intricacies of fraud law in order to categorise it properly. One can see why the average citizen doesn't bother to report such to the police (and takes such matters into their own hands). The reason you do not acknowledge the seriousness of this fraud epidemic is because you collectively deny its existence - and use your lack of data in relation to it to reinforce this view. If you don't see it, it isn't happening it seems.

You are correct in that there was a court case on 12 July 2013, though it was not a civil case, as you would know had you familiarised yourself with the details before contacting me. The court case was to discern whether my actions were reasonable by way of removing a bailiff's wheel clamp. The magistrates view was that there were means available to me that I neglected to explore before resorting to removing their clamp, thus my actions were not viewed as reasonable - and consequently I am guilty of Criminal Damage. I beg to differ, and will appeal, but that is not relevant to the matter at hand.

The court case itself was not to decide whether or not my allegations of fraud against Rundles Bailiffs were valid or not. In fact the magistrates made no ruling on this at all, because that was not in their remit. You are correct in that the police have awaited the verdict before initiating an investigation. They have used it as an excuse not to investigate - as they have wrongfully read the verdict as a vindication of the bailiffs, when it is entirely immaterial to the allegations of fraud. So yet again the police have not only ducked the issue, they have merely sat on an investigation and allowed the outcome of this trial to prejudice their decision to investigate. When I am finished with the appeal process, regardless of the outcome, I will turn all my attention on a police complaint and will present other victims of Rundles bailiffs in support of it. They are mistaken if they think I will let this drop.

The police have been rude and dismissive from the outset and I would even say lazy at this point. I am a victim of a crime and have been stonewalled by the council and the police - and now your own office. I am astonished by this. There is now a cottage industry of legal services to deal with rogue bailiffs and thousands of anecdotal accounts of bailiff fee fraud on internet forums and yet the whole law enforcement establishment prefers to stick its fingers in its ears and deny the problem exists.

You will be aware that even small councils are issuing anywhere between five and ten thousand liability orders a year for council tax - and if even half of these result in bailiff action, whereby they routinely employ unlawful tactics - in clear breach of the regulations, then we are looking at a national epidemic amounting to several million pounds. One would have thought that this would be of particular interest to you. Pursuing it would not only go a long way to restoring public confidence in the police, but would also be a career making case against a long standing epidemic of fraud that has netted millions for unscrupulous bailiffs. In light of the changes to council tax benefit, this problem is only going to get worse, and still you are content to neglect the issue, and essentially fob me off with the same bland corporate-speak as everyone else. If I'd wanted a scripted answer from a press officer, I'd have called your press officer.

My confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of the police has been utterly rocked by this. Had the police taken my complaint seriously in the first instance there would never have been a criminal case brought against me. There is no evidence whatsoever that the bailiffs visited me on the alleged dates and they have no record of the charges they scribbled on the proformas stuffed through my door at later dates. Only I am in possession of these documents. That is why the police do not see any evidence of fraud: - They have refused point blank to even look at it. They have not even been to my house to follow up on the evidence.

What we have here is 'policing by stats'. Prosecuting me is a nice easy hit that takes no great effort to secure a statistical win. The police will take the councils word that the bailiff fees are legitimate and will do no examination of their own, and with the deck stacked by the councils not even investigating complaints and referring complaints directly to the bailiff companies themselves, there is a high probability of an easy conviction. It seems that anything that may prove difficult or time consuming to investigate, that does not necessarily result in an easy statistic to chalk up on the blackboard, is deemed too much effort and not worth the trouble. Rather than serving the justice and serving the public, they can proudly lie to their superiors that another ruffian criminal has been punished for his misdeeds. For a public service that is rapidly losing respect and standing in the community, you would expect they would take more of an interest in protecting the public interest. If this is the shape of policing to come, I will not be in the least bit surprised if we start seeing such incidents turn violent - and you will have played your part in it.
I am am deeply offended, angry and disappointed by the police response in this matter and now I know they've have chosen sides, I will no longer view them as public servants, but lazy, predatory bandits who will opt for convenience over justice. The consequences of that will be theirs because times are coming where the police will need the co-operation and support of people like me. It won't be there. As for you, if your letter is anything to go by, you are as much a part of the problem.

Yours sincerely,

Peter North.
I don't for a minute expect it will penetrate the layers of institutional conditioning, nor will it prick her conscience since public officials have no souls anyway.  I bet this ghoulish thing doesn't even cast a reflection in the mirror.  However, this is essentially the result of getting in touch with the Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.  The lesson here is that if you don't like the answer from the press officer-in-chief, then they will shunt it through to a different press officer, who will merely add a moderately different flavour of bullshit to it.

Somehow we're expected to pay them £100k a year or more for this drivel.   Given that this apologist crap is so standard now, I'm surprised there isn't a subroutine in Microsoft Word that essentially does the same job for the price of a liability order.  These people are scum sucking parasites and they are draining the vitality from civil society.  Eventually, there will be a price to pay.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Bailiff fraud is a national epidemic.  The only people who won't acknowledge it are the police, the courts and the councils because they rely on it to feed their grubby little empires.  They are uniformly corrupt - and even the government is starting to take notice.  But I am not alone in fighting them.  I have received some substantial and very generous donations over the last few days.  We are stunned by the response.  So I can categorically say, when we win the appeal, we are going to make Avon and Somerset Police pay through the nose, and South Glos Council will be sent a bill for the disruption and stress - and we will take them to court should they refuse to pay.  We will also move for a serious reprimand of the police officers involved.  One way or another, I'm going to take this out of somebody's hide and South Glos Council will have to answer for their corruption. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

An easy hit.

A policeman hard at work serving the community.
Readers of this blog may have noticed the contributions from various commenters, some of whom are every bit as familiar with this corruption epidemic as I.  It's rare to get relevant and sensible comments on a blog and I am very grateful to receive them.  I'm only sorry I've not had time to reply to each of them, but please keep them coming.  The first comment on the latest post by "eek it out" hit the nail on the head.  What we have here is 'policing by stats'.

Prosecuting me is a nice easy hit that takes no great effort to secure a statistical win.  The plod will take the councils word that the bailiff fees are legitimate and will do no examination of their own, and with the deck stacked, there is a high probability of an easy conviction - especially since the average magistrate is too thick to make a judgement on points of technical regulation.  To expect a plod to do the legwork where grey matter may collide - forget it.

Rather than address a fraud epidemic for which there is widespread proof, testimony and multiple complaints to the police, as well as a cottage industry in fighting them, the police opt not to rock the boat and leave these grubby little dung piles alone, free to rape the public with unlawful charges.  I ask, would this industry even exist if the police did their jobs? 

It seems that anything that may prove difficult to investigate, that does not necessarily result in an easy statistic to chalk up on the blackboard, is deemed too much effort and not worth the trouble.  Rather than serving the justice and serving the public, they can proudly lie to their superiors that another ruffian criminal has been punished for his misdeeds.  For a public service that is rapidly losing respect and standing in the community, you would expect they would take more of an interest in protecting the public interest.

I have been in touch with Avon and Somerset Plod to demand a written explanation as to why they have refused to investigate, which I shall publish here.  So far they have gone to great lengths to avoid putting anything in writing.  I suspect this is because they know full well that they are exposed - and they know they have done a sloppy job on this from the outset, especially the obnoxious and thoroughly lazy PC 4434 Bird.  One can almost understand the impulse to throw hand grenades at plod if the lack of manners is typical of PC's Bird and Coleman.

However, there is one small matter they forget.  This isn't over yet.  Odds are good that I shall win the appeal an abuse of process grounds alone.  After which, if they think I have been a nuisance up to press, they ain't seen nothing yet.  But if I lose, I will have a criminal record already, and thus will have nothing to lose by doing precisely the same again next year, alongside a couple of other community minded and principled people who have pledged to do the same by withholding council tax; after which I will  be compiling a document for submission to the Serious Fraud Office.  They are, after all, experts on serious fraud.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

An open letter to Avon & Somerset PCC

Dear Mrs Mountstevens,

I am writing to you to express my grave concern over the conduct of Avon and Somerset Police in the matter of an alleged fraud by Rundles Bailiffs.  Yet again, the police have refused to investigate the matter, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that Rundles visited my home on either occasion they attempted to charge me for, nor have Rundles kept any record of what they attempted to charge me on the first date they actually visited, which is well in excess of what is permitted by law.  Had the police bothered to investigate I could have demonstrated this clearly.  Further to this I have only had a phone call from a police officer to explain their reasoning, who refused to let me speak at any point and did not listen to anything I said. 

The police have taken the view that as I was found guilty of criminal damage for removing the bailiff's clamp, that de-facto, there is no fraud to investigate, however, no verdict was passed on Rundles or the evidence presented in that regard; only a verdict on whether my actions could be said to be reasonable in light of the circumstances.  And so in essence, the police have summarily acquitted Rundles without investigation or charge, and had they done their jobs in the first place (and interviewed me as to why I suspect fraud) I would not in all likelihood have even faced a trial to begin with.  Given the timing of today's phone call, one takes the impression that the police have merely sat on the matter until the verdict of this trial, which is has no bearing on the matter of fraud.  That is breathtaking negligence even by Avon & Somerset standards.

I require a written explanation as to why it is the policy of the police not to investigate matters of fraud.  The police have been rude and uninterested from the outset, and not at any point have they taken a legitimate complaint seriously.  At this point I am considering legal action against the police because I feel there is little alternative.  

The police have acted with contempt and with a total disregard for their duty to uphold the law in this matter - and have have merely acted as agents on behalf of council collection agents.  I need not tell you how much this harms the standing of the police in the community.  Now that the councils are significantly increasing their council tax liability order summonses, someone will eventually take the law into their own hands on the basis of police negligence - and somebody, possibly a police officer, will get hurt.  On that day, I will be sure to remind them who is at fault, and that you had every opportunity to remedy it.

Peter North.

Kicking back at bailiffs.

The Guardian is running a half decent report this week on the guidelines issued by the DCLG.  There's not much to pick fault with, either in the guidelines or the Guardian report, to which the councils will pay no attention.  I offer an extract for analysis.
Pickles said: "It is unacceptable for councils to employ burly bailiffs with heavy-handed tactics like kicking down doors, making phantom visits or charging excessive fees – it is unfair and damages a council's standing in the community.
Bailiff behaviour in this fashion is a given.  It's what bailiffs do.  That is why this blog is named the way it it, not "Rundles are lying crooks".  It seems somewhat redundant to make that assertion.  That's what they do.  If Rundles are confident that I am being in any way libellous, they are welcome to sue me and I shall see them in court.

What really "damages a council's standing in the community" is the fact that councils not only refuse to investigate their own contractors, it it is the fact they wilfully support the criminal actions of their contractors without investigation of complaints.

In so doing they move from a position of being benevolent benefactors to the needy to a position of being greedy cash-grabbing corporate monopolies who abuse their 'market position' to extort as much money as they can, for nefarious and dishonest purposes, with little or no accountability to the public.

This in turn creates what Baroness Hollis calls a "culture of non-compliance".  And rightly so.  If we are to pay council tax for them to squander at will without consequence for failure, and will wilfully allow their contractors to break the law in pursuit of their ill-gotten gains, then there is little or no option but for the decent law abiding citizen to refuse to comply.  That is, in part, why this blog exists.  If the state has taken it upon itself to break the law and criminalise the poor, then "non-compliance" is not only an option and a consequence, it is also a moral and civic duty.

This isn't over.

Some readers will be aware that the criminal damage trial regarding the clamping was last week.  I was found guilty.  I had moved for an adjournment on the basis that, as the police were (supposedly) investigating Rundles bailiffs, the outcome may prejudice that investigation.  I then received a letter from the CPS agreeing to an adjournment and even the CPS barrister in court had no objections in light of this matter.  This was of no concern to the magistrates, who then proceeded to press ahead with the trial, even thought I was without representation and my case notes were with my legal adviser.

Their view was that I should have been prepared for the possibility of a trial and spent the £1000 on representation just on the off chance, even though there was every reasonable expectation of an adjournment.  Evidently, expediency takes precedence over justice. 

The verdict was somewhat non-committal.  It was the view of the magistrates that as I had not contacted the police or the council at the time of clamping (as if there was any point in that) that my actions were not reasonable, which has no bearing on the fraud issue whatsoever.

Consequently, a rather rude plod informed me today (without letting me speak) that they have decided to drop their investigation of Rundles on the basis that I was found guilty of criminal damage. It is not for the magistrates to pass judgement on the matter of fraud (nor did they do so), only as to whether my actions were reasonable in light of the circumstances.  So the police have basically sat on their arses and awaited this verdict and summarily found Rundles innocent without investigation, charge or trial, even though Rundles themselves have admitted in court that they have no record of what they attempted to charge on first visit, no copies of the letters they posted through my door - and have yet to supply any evidence whatsoever that the visits had taken place at all.  Nor have the police contacted me at any point to clarify why I suspect a fraud and what my grounds for complaint are.  Had the police done their job (as if), there is a good chance I would not even have faced a trial.

I'm sure the plod, Rundles and the Council are having a good laugh about this, but in light of this, the police have strengthened my appeal grounds and now I will move for a full retrial.  This isn't over, not by a long shot, and when I win, I will make it my sole mission to bring all parties concerned to account.  My line of defence at trial was flawed, but having done the dress-rehearsal with a bunch of brain dead magistrates, and now having a new ace up my sleeve, along with proper representation, were I James Cohen, I would be concerned.  The police, the council and the courts have made a pigs ear of this from the very start.  It is going to cost them.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Quelle Surprise!

Well, well, well!!  Look who's in the news!  It's our fraudster friends, Rundle & Co. Bailiffs.
"When the bailiff, employed by Rundles – which collects late payments on behalf of the council – arrived at the 38-year-old's home in Hermits Road, Three Bridges, she thought he was there to discuss the plan.  But when she let him inside he presented her with a £950 bill, which included a £500 late payment charge.  Mrs Mustafaj told him she didn't have that much on her so would have to go to the bank.  She claims the bailiff told her this would add £110 to the bill. Mrs Mustafaj, who runs Cafe Xpress Wash in Gales Place, reluctantly agreed to pay up."
There is absolutely no basis in law for these charges whatsoever.  Not legally, not morally.  A serious fraud has been committed and Mrs Mustafaj, the victim, is evidently under the impression that Rundles have lawful authority to levy these fees.  They do not.  It is depressing that with all the wealth of information online that people still fall for this grotesque scam.  But the behaviour of the local council is equally repugnant, and is fairly consistent with my experience of South Gloucestershire Council, who are also aiding and abetting a serious fraud epidemic.
"Defending the bailiff, a council spokesman said: "Mrs Mustafaj appealed against the council's decision [not to give her a council tax discount]. It was reconsidered but we upheld our previous decision.  On April 18 Mrs Mustafaj told us she wished to take her claim to tribunal, which we are preparing for. The bailiff's actions and fees were appropriate."
This is absolutely classic council behaviour. No attempt to investigate the complaint, or to establish the lawfulness of the fees, only a justification of the decision to use bailiffs, which is wholly irrelevant. All we get is the casual and indifferent corporate-speak lies from them and "Nobody from Rundles was available for comment." Shocked!! Shocked I tell you!

Our councils are knowingly assisting a bandit organisation that wilfully acts outside the law. They must be stopped. And they will be. Of that, I promise.  I am not working alone on this.  An individual by the name of Arnold Layne deserves some special credit for the work he has done with FOI requests and his other research, and if you look in the comments of the linked article, you will see that there are other ordinary citizens, just like you, who have cottoned on to these grubby little fiefdoms where the police, the councils, the courts and the bailiffs close ranks in mutual defence and in defiance of the law.  We are building a body of evidence between us that this corruption is endemic to most, if not all, councils in the UK.

This is quite obviously a deliberate conspiracy to defraud, obfuscate and evade, and while the authorities have been getting away with this for years, now that we are seeing queues round the block of people summonsed for council tax, the days of this dirty little stitch-up are numbered.  Someone will have to answer, and if they think they can do this to us without there being a price to pay, then they can think again.  These people are predators who prey on the gullible, the weak and the poor.  But we will spread the word and we will teach people to stand up for their rights - and then SGC and your cronies, we will turn our attention on you.

Arrogant, rude, lazy and indifferent.

While the greedy-guts fraudsters at SGC are the primary offenders in this whole debacle, the police have not escaped my attention either, as you probably noticed.  What prompts this post is the remarks made today by policing minister Damian Green.  He said that "police should be more polite and thoughtful to renew their relationship with members of the public".  I couldn't agree more.

On the morning when the plod came to retrieve the clamp I confiscated, an individual whom I believe to be PC Coleman 4331, on behalf of Rundles, proceeded to lecture me without allowing me to speak, stating in so many words that he had the power to violate my flat in search of it if I refused to hand it over.

What is interesting here is that, even though the governments own guidelines have always required that the police take bailiff fraud seriously, Coleman refused to even let me finish my sentences and kept repeating "It's a civil matter" in a mantra fashion, while the dimwitted plod-ette sat smirking silently in the corner.  I was insistent that he listened, but instead he threatened to arrest me for speaking out of turn.  I wasn't threatening and I wasn't even uncivil, much to my own surprise.  I quoted the regulations to him directly, to which he replied as he was leaving "it's all Greek to me, I don't know anything about it."  I suggested that "he ought to fucking well find out, because this won't be the last time".

Essentially, this plod was aiding and abetting a fraud, - and abandoning impartiality by acting as an agent on behalf of Rundles (even though the plod maintain it was a civil matter), while refusing to even hear out the case put to him (with the legislation on screen) that a criminal act had been carried out against me - and that I was a victim of a crime.  According to the plod, it's a civil matter where the public are concerned, but it's a criminal act to defend yourself against well known fraudsters like James Cohen & Co.

At this point, politeness seems somewhat redundant.  But if the plod think that talking over people and shouting down victims of crime is a way in which to secure the respect and co-operation of the public, then we're in bigger trouble that I thought.  To all intents and purposes, the police have simply become the para-military wing of the tax office and the bodyguards of known serial fraudsters.  This is the stuff of third world mafia-state kleptocracies, not first world democracies.  (Stop laughing at the back.)

But times they are a changing.  Today we see, courtesy of a passer by, the true face of the British police.  Essentially they are violent, belligerent, arrogant, bent, lazy, know-nothing incompetents (who think they are the whole of the law), who will only act when they're exposed, and only with instruction from both the police commissioner and the CPS - and even that took some doing.  So, my dear plod, the next time we dance our little dance (and we will), you will excuse me if I am less than civil.  While there are still no laws against standing up for yourself, I will continue to do so until you get your own house in order.

Monday, 8 July 2013

I got mail!

As far as councils go, SGC are not the worst offenders when it comes to greedy profiteering from Liability Orders - but they most certainly are greedy little piggies.  Here is their rather frank admission of fraud:
Dear Mr North,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Liability Orders granted in pursuit of Council Tax for 2012/2013 = 4,272
The actual cost of issuing = £84.79
Amount charged = £85.00
Total Revenue raised = £363,120

Please let me know if you require clarification on any of the above.

Yours sincerely ,

Mrs L Stevens
Recovery manager 
South Gloucestershire Council
Don't you find it awfully convenient that the supposed cost of running a monthly query against their existing tax database comes to £84.79  per person?  What is going so badly wrong at SGC that it costs them £362,222.88 to print off and send a batch of letters from a mail merge?  And though the law states that only reasonable costs may be charged, even by their own admission, they are rounding it upward.  By their own admission the are embezzling money from the process. I suspect if we were allowed to know the true cost, we would find the fraud is a substantially larger figure than they admit to. Perhaps I should call the police?

Though it is interesting to note that this is the same Mrs L Stevens who referred a specific complaint about a council recovery officer, to that very same council officer, which in my view is an outrageous abuse of process.
Mr North,

I have been forwarded your email as Mrs Hooper is not in the office until Monday 24th February.

The content and the tone of your email have been noted, but I do not intend to dignify it with a detailed response other than to advise you that Mrs Hooper is a very valued & experienced senior member of my Recovery team.

A full investigation of your complaint will be undertaken by Mrs Hooper next week.

I have advised Rundle & Co of your comments relating to their company.

Yours sincerely

Mrs L Stevens
Recovery Manager
South Gloucestershire Council
You will also note, that rather than investigating the alleged fraud by Rundles and referring it to the police, as they are supposed to do, this same creature actually leaks my complaint to the bailiffs themselves.  What we see in SGC's recovery office is a bunch of lazy, arrogant, dishonest crooks who will neither investigate a complaint properly or uphold the law, and leak complaints to their criminal contractors.  When the court case is over, win or lose, there is an abuse of process to address here and Dorothy Hooper and Louise Stevens must be held to account.  While I am considering suing them, an LGO complaint is most certainly in the works.  These grubby parasites really should face the sack.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Warning over council tax scam

Residents are being warned about a council tax scam currently in circulation.  Thousands of people have been contacted by a criminal gang calling themselves "South Gloucestershire Council" with demands for sums exceeding £1000.  Their material claims that "This funding is a vital part of the region's budget and we want to make sure every penny goes towards providing vital front-line services." which, as we know, simply isn't true.  This organisation is a local protection racket whose collection agents are known to the police and are currently under investigation for fraud.  The ringleader of this scam is thought to be serial fraudster, Amanda Deeks, who operates in collusion with local thugs, one of them suspected to be James Cohen.  Residents of South Gloucestershire should call the police should they believe they are a target of this scam.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A sign of things to come?

The Daily Mail reports that a bailiff and his female colleague were shot in south London while they tried to evict a housing association tenant with rent arrears.  The tempation is to let out a small cheer but we do not know the details of this case.  Though if it transpires that the bailiffs behaved in the way that Rundle & Co do, and the police were equally unmoved to investigate, one would not be the least bit surprised at this action - and this was only a matter of time.

Local politician Chuka Umunna has said  “It is very important that those who provide housing and related services can do their jobs without living in fear, never mind without suffering extreme violence of this type."  Given the conduct of various authorities across the country, I say "physician, heal thyself".  If you continue in this manner, then those who "provide housing and related services" will most definiately live in fear, and deservedly so.

If the public cannot rely on the police, the councils and the bailiffs to acknowledge and uphold the law, then there is little recourse but for citizens to take the law into their own hands.  Should the situation not improve, I expect we shall see a great deal more of this - and I, for one, will not lose any sleep over it.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A National Scandal

Following a burst of activity on this, I have a few irons in a few fires, and some persons in high places are looking at my various complaints.  I have also sent out a few strategic FOI requests that will undoubtedly prove useful in the future.  The slow nature of this process means that this cannot be a daily blog, as there is little to report between events.  However, just to give you an idea of how large this issue is, I thought I would do a little round-up of some of todays observances.  It's not just South Gloucestershire Council who are behaving like a third world kleptocracy.

This phenomenon is well documented in other local authorities.  But there is another more subtle fraud at play that does not fill as many column inches as rogue bailiffs like Rundle & Co.  The councils themselves are engaged in a grubby little fraud of their own.

Each time a summons is generated with reference to council tax arrears, councils charge on average £85 for the Liability Order, not least the criminal enterprise known as South Gloucestershire Council.  One of my FOI requests is to establish exactly how much that set of crooks are extorting for the last financial year, but helpfully, just to give you an idea of the numbers at play, we have this.

Two hundred people are summoned to court EVERY DAY on average across Manchester for council tax arrears, with with a whopping 50,000 summons being issued last year alone at a sum of £82 a time. That's right folks. Manchester raises £4.1 MILLION a year (and rising) from Liability Orders, which they expect us to believe is a "reasonable cost" of sending a CSV file to the courts each week.  There is a law that states these charges must only reflect "reasonable costs", but every council in the land is telling porkies about the actual cost of running a couple of queries on their tax collection databases.

Add this up across every council and you are looking at some pretty serious numbers. They are criminalising the poorest and profiteering out of those least able to pay.  In my view this is nothing short of fraud and councils should now be subject to the Proceeds of Crime Act, whereby the sums illegally confiscated should be returned to the people from whom it was stolen.

But note the tone of the piece I linked to.  The Uncle Tom local media, who dare not criticize their council masters in fear of losing the advertising revenue, describe citizens as "tax dodgers", when even the Citizens Advice Bureau is predicting a 20% increase in referrals to bailiffs by councils due to the welfare changes.  And this is what passes for local journalism.  So bad has this situation got that in Peterborough, it has triggered huge queues at the city’s magistrates’ court.

Courts in Norfolk granted 21,903 liability orders to the county’s councils for non-payment of council tax in 2012/13. Those orders mean people have two weeks to pay up or bailiffs could be sent out to recoup the money on behalf of the councils, including the Liability Order surcharge.

What should be a means of covering basic expenses, councils are using as a very large revenue stream, chiefly by criminalising ordinary people.  And while local media prefers to see it in terms of "tax dodgers" and the national media pays no attention at all to it, the best we get from "Citizens Advice" is a banale quote...  
"in the space of just two months, we had seen a surge in people seeking advice on how to deal with bailiffs and council tax arrears. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Bailiffs will see their profits rise at the expense of hard-pressed households."
Yeah, no shit Sherlock; So why aren't you guys publicly condemning the state sanctioned fraud and council corruption?  Cat got your tongue?  And the supposed taxpayers advocacy group is equally weak.  "Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Manchester can’t afford for so much Council Tax to be left unpaid".  Why sure it can Matthew. It can sack the legions of worthless, lazy and corrupt parasites on its payroll and leave the money in our hands, but Matthew Sinclair and the TPA make their living being a rent-a-quote for lazy local media hacks and thus do not rock the boat.

Similarly you will find bland statements from our elected officials like this "Deputy Leader Cllr Gledhill said “Every penny owed to the Council that is not collected means higher charges for Thurrock residents who do pay on time.", meanwhile councils are sitting on huge cash reserves of anywhere up to £90m and are still advertising for worthless overpaid non-jobbers.  Austerity?  You're doing it wrong!

This is a national scandal not befitting a first world liberal democracy.  Nationwide, councils are estimated to levy in the order of £230 million a year in summons and liability order charges and, if that rate had been sustained for the twenty years the regulations have been in force, the cumulative overcharge could run to £4 billion.  That queues of people are forming outside magistrates courts over councils excessive use of the courts, turning courts into revenue streams over houses of justice, is frankly breathtaking and should be a front page story of national importance were our pathetic media on the ball.  The one and only worthwhile bit of journalism I have encountered is this.
It's thought potentially, many millions of pounds may have been overcharged by Councils in the pursuit of Council Tax recovery since its introduction in 1992.  It has long been speculated that Councils profit from taking householders to court for being late with Council Tax payments.  Local Authorities are charged a fraction of the amount passed on to residents in costs.  Each Liability Order applied for costs councils £3 according to the Magistrates' Courts fee schedule. Struggling householders are then charged many multiples of this, for example, one London Borough Council imposes £125 costs for making late payments for Council Tax, but for Business rates, this increases to £220 for an identical process.
It continues...
The law doesn't allow for profits, only reasonable cost incurred for the administration involved, but councils increase costs as a "deterrent" element or to coerce payment. The same council documented that "the extra cost is seen as a way of encouraging prompt payment", and as a bonus would raise additional income of £38k a year. There is nothing in legislation to support an increase in costs on this basis.
As we have seen, with previous enquiries on this issue, councils are very guarded in what information they release, they have no intention of inspecting or investigating their bailiffs and they resist transparency over liability order profiteering.  The police will also drag their heels in the hope that you will give up.  It is at this point, "tax dodging" becomes both a moral and civic duty.  Anyone for a Starbucks?  Give us a call on my Vodafone.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Plod Close Ranks.

Readers of this blog will know that I have, in light of the new Department for Communities and Local Government guidelines, contacted the police again, with regard to securing a conviction against Rundles for their attempted fraud.  Avon & Somerset's Legal Services Department is trying to conflate this case with the matter of my removing Rundle's clamp at a later date, even though I got my complaint in first.

The police initially refused to investigate it as they maintained it is a civil matter, but the DCLG quite clearly states that it is not - and so did I.  Fraud has never been a civil matter and this is the most clear cut case of fraud I have ever seen. Had Avon & Somerset investigated properly at the time of my complaint, it would then have demonstrated the exact legal authority by which I removed the clamp and I would not be facing a bogus criminal damage charge.  Instead they summarily dismissed my complaint without reviewing any of the evidence.  Following their refusal to investigate I was fobbed off with the advice that I should report it via the Action Fraud website, which is essentially a black hole which issues you a crime number and that's the last you hear of it.

I let the matter rest as I decided my efforts should go into defending the criminal damage charge, however, I have had a change of heart, especially now that I have a written admission by Rundles that I was not present at the time of their alleged visits.  If criminal law applies to me then it must also apply to Rundles.  They have attempted a fraud, I have have proof, and an admission from Rundles.  What more do they want?  I removed their clamp on the basis that it was an excessive levy by legal definition, and that it was also an abandoned levy.  The legality of the fees is almost immaterial to the clamping issue.

Since there is evidently a system wide directive to treat bailiff fraud as a civil matter, there is grounds for suing the police, and should they not make a proper job of it this time around, I shall do exactly that.  It is a gross dereliction of duty for the police not to protect citizens from predatory bailiffs acting outside the law.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Trinity of Evil - The Unholy Alliance

There is much talk in the media about corporate greed.  But let us not forget that some of the biggest and greediest corporates around are our local authorities.  Many councils now raise more in fines and fees than they do from council tax.  What they cannot extort though petty fines and self-financing regulation (such as planning), they raise through intimidation, extortion and fraud.  South Gloucestershire Council is no exception.

Like most large criminal enterprises with conspicuous levels of corruption, there can be no getting away with it without at least some co-operation from the police.   Insomuch as Rundle & Co. Bailiffs are seasoned extortionists and fraudsters, they have only been able to get away with it with the tacit approval of the council and a blind eye from the police.

As soon as I became aware of how the Rundles fraud worked I contacted the police, to which I was told that they would not intervene on account of bailiff action being a "civil matter".  You don't need to have read the recent Department of Communities and Local Government guidelines to know that attempting to charge for work not done is fraud.  In 2007, in an answer to the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland (for the Government) explained that charging for phantom attendances was a criminal offence under the Fraud Act.  Furthermore, there are at least a half dozen LGO rulings stating that bailiffs cannot levy for fees alone, and that levies must be proportionate to the value of the debt.  In no way is the levy of my Audi A4 proportionate to the the sum of £192, even if the fees were legitimate.  If Avon and Somerset Police had any interest in justice whatsoever, it would not have taken their legal department very long at all to establish whether or not the actions of Rundles were lawful.  But since there is evidently a directive to treat such issues as a "civil matter", they have routinely neglected their obligation to investigate.

I raised this issue with out local Police & Crime Commissioner, who merely replied with a bland press office statement detailing how I could use the "Action Fraud" website, but adding that it was most likely a "civil matter".  I let this drop since arguing with a public official is about as likely to succeed as baptising a cat, and I am playing the long game.  Dorothy Hooper et al of SGC think I have dropped the matter, and for the time being I am happy to let them think that.  However, Eric Pickles just gave me the best present I could ever hope for which prompted the following letter...
Dear Mrs Mountstevens,

You may recall a little while ago I wrote to you about the conduct of Rundles Bailiffs acting on behalf of South Gloucestershire Council. The police wrongly maintained that it was a civil matter and you repeated that view to me. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government has published guidelines on this just recently, in which it states...

5.7 Public concern has been raised about the practice of some bailiffs undertaking ‘phantom visits’ – charging fees for action when no action was actually taken.

5.8 The Government consider that any fraudulent practices should be reported to the police as a criminal offence under the Fraud Act and that Local Authorities should terminate any contract with companies whose activities are proved fraudulent.

I have a statement from Rundles (to the police) confirming that I was not present on both visits to my house, both of which they attempted to charge for, along with spurious "attendance fees" on the first actual visit, which is not permitted by law under The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. See revised fee schedules.

In light of this, will you now instruct your officers to take bailiff fraud seriously and investigate my complaint?

Yours sincerely,

Peter North.

It elicited an unusually prompt reply:

Dear Mr North,

Thank you for your email below.

As the contents of your email relates to an operational policing matter, under the independent direction and control of the Chief Constable, I have passed the details to Avon and Somerset Police and they will follow up your enquiry and reply to you directly. Please expect a response within 20 business days.

I am confident that the Avon and Somerset Police will provide a full response and in my oversight role I have asked to be updated accordingly. However, if you are dissatisfied then please contact me again via this email address. 

I hope that this action is helpful to you.

Yours sincerely
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner
Valley Road, Portishead, Bristol BS20 8JJ
01275 816377
Now it would be churlish of me to suggest she has merely passed the buck, but at least it wasn't the knee-jerk rebuttal I expected.  Just to make sure, I reported the fraud once more to the local Chief Constable and my local community plod overlord.  I have since received a phone call from one of their minions assuring me I shall have a reply within ten days.  Interesting that they assume to cogitate over this without even interviewing me for the details, hence why I hold no great hopes of accomplishment this time around.  Howsoever, I am not by any means going to be fobbed off.  There is always Police Complaints, and failing that, I have other more creative means of holding them to account, which I shall detail later.

What we are seeing here is the classic "arrogance of office", which is as evident in the commissioners office as it is in the run of the mill street plod.  Once I had reported Rundles to the police, they then launched a counter complaint against me for cutting off their clamp with an angle grinder.  Unsurprisingly, while my complaint was neglected, the police did not waste any time in knocking at my door.  So as to catch me unawares, they knocked at some ungodly hour in the morning, as is their typical tactic - so I am most likely to be in the least capable state to defend myself.  An arrogant plod and his female stooge proceeded to lecture me, without allowing me to speak, while threatening to ransack my house in search of the clamp.  Interesting that it is a "civil matter" when I have a complaint, but they are happy to violate my home on behalf of Rundle & Co.

Now, as any fool knows, you don't debate with the monkey, you go to the organ grinder.   I was threatened with arrest simply for attempting to assert my side of the story, and if it was a civil matter as they maintain, then they had no right reclaim the clamp.  But the common plod thinks he is the whole of the law and above it.  Had I been in a fit state I would have taken his badge number, but he is too far down the food chain and I will get to him eventually.

As if this were not grotesque enough in itself, some weeks after the plod reclaimed the clamp and after more harassment from the bailiffs for outstanding unlawful fees, Rundles took to abuse of police process.  Not content with committing fraud and trespass on property, Rundles have taken to wasting police time. I was driving up to see the parents that weekend and noticed I was being followed by a plod in an unmarked BMW 5 series. We get near Tamworth and he is joined by a BMW X5 4x4 and I suddenly realise they are escorting me!

A few moments later, the "follow me" lights pop up and we pull into a service station. I knew I hadn't been speeding so I had a feeling it would be some or other harassment. The plod then explained that my car had been reported stolen. I spent ten minutes waiting in the squad car while they established that the car was mine. I was compelled to explain that the car wasn't bought on hire purchase and there were no loans secured against it and the thing was 100% mine. They made no mention of who actually reported it as stolen, but explained that an ANPR alert tag had been placed on my car and they picked me up at a checkpoint. Having made it quite clear (as if it wasn't obvious) that I was no car thief, they disappeared to the X5 to try and clear it up. At this point, while alone, I scrolled down on the squad cars on-board computer. To my complete lack of surprise I read the words "Rundle and Co." at the bottom of the report.

Since the rather amiable plod made no mention of this, I made no mention of it either and we then had a convivial chat about the respective merits of the BMW 5 series, and the usefulness of average speed cameras. The other plod then confirmed that there must be "some sort of civil dispute which was an NFA" - No Further Action. The ANPR alert was taken off my car and the plod wished me a safe journey, but declined to reveal who had made the report.

I found the whole experience highly amusing. I must have gotten under their skin if they are resorting to this. But it does raise a serious point. Here we have Rundles making hoax calls to the police and claiming ownership of other peoples property. If a citizen made a hoax call of this nature, it would be an arrestable, criminal offence. I see no reason why Rundles should not be held to the same laws as the rest of us.  However, when I made my complaint to the council and to the police, one PC Bird shrugged it off as "standard procedure" to investigate all such reports.  Too bad the same doesn't apply to fraud.

To add insult to injury, my complaint to the council was handed to Rundles by the council instead of addressing it directly, who proceeded to claim pound breach as they had taken possession of my vehicle at time of clamping.  Aside from the fact that clamping amounts to an abandoned levy, and the sketchy legality of that "levy" for fees alone, the police seemed totally oblivious and unconcerned by the fact they had been used in a vindictive campaign of harassment against a private citizen by state sanctioned fraudsters.  The final insult being that Rundles directed me to the industry watchdog CIVEA, which is a watchdog made up of the respective bailiff companies, of which James Cohen, the bailiff concerned, is on the board of directors.

I could talk at length about the legal and moral issues surrounding all this, but that is beside the point.  Here we have a police force who ignore the complaints of ordinary citizens, but will leap to the defence of private contractors working for the council, with the full collaboration of the council who casually refute any complaint, having done no background research or even consulting their own code of practice.

It's breathtaking isn't it?  And a dangerous precedent.  We have gluttonous local government which is not in any way accountable for the money it wastes, who then uses hired goons who operate outside of the law, who are free to investigate their own malpractice on behalf of the councils, while councils casually relinquish themselves of any responsibility for wrong-doing, while the police turn a blind eye and lend support to fraudsters, bullies and liars. What kind of message does that send?

Civil society depends on the assumption that the police are neutral and fair-minded, but when it comes to the collection of revenue, they are simply uniformed goons, no different to the bailiffs themselves.  If citizens cannot rely on transparency from their councils or protection from the police, then it is only a matter of time before the public have to take the law into their own hands.  Just recently there was a report of a policeman being stabbed in the neck while acting in support of bailiffs.  While the local media neglected to report the finer details, I am left wondering if the attacker had some justification?  Knowing that the police will wilfully refuse to investigate further fraud by Rundles, and the council recovery officers are complicit in it, I have no alternative but to defend myself by any means necessary against the next incursion.  I have no wish for things to turn ugly, but in such circumstances, I fail to see any alternative.  If the police want to know why there is a collapse in confidence in them, they might be well advised to do some detailed introspection.