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‘We must make sure this never happens again’

Family of gig economy victim launch fight for justice

THE family of a young “gig economy” courier who killed himself after acquiring debts from two small traffic fines took their campaign to regulate the way bailiffs operate to Parliament today.

Jerome Rogers
Jerome Rogers

Jerome Rogers was a 19-year-old man who worked as a delivery courier for CitySprint transporting blood between London hospitals.

His variable income left him unable to pay two £65 traffic fines immediately. Fees and charges rapidly escalated the debt to over £1,000 and became unmanageable.

Despite Mr Rogers’s efforts to seek an affordable repayment plan, bailiffs clamped his motorbike, rendering him unable to work.

After increasingly desperate attempts to resolve the situation, Mr Rogers took his own life in March last year.

His family are now campaigning to reform the way bailiffs operate.

His mother Tracey Rogers said: “Our family can never turn back the clock. The heavy-handed actions of bailiffs made a reasonable person like Jerome feel like there was no way out.

“The government needs to take action so the circumstances around Jerome’s death can never happen again. Affordable payment plans should be something you are offered, not a privilege you have to beg for.

“If ministers listen to why bailiffs need to be regulated, perhaps other families can be spared the hurt that we’ve been caused.”

A recent report for the Taking Control campaign by a coalition of 11 national charities shows that aggressive and threatening bailiff behaviour is not uncommon, with thousands of people suffering financial and emotional hardship as a result.

The all-party parliamentary group on debt and personal finance, chaired by Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue, met the family today with their local Labour MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, and representatives of the Taking Control campaign.

They pressed the government for an independent regulator to control how private-sector bailiff firms operate.

Ms Fovargue said: “Jerome’s tragic story shocks us all the more because the mountain of debt he ended up with started out as a simple traffic penalty … This must not be allowed to happen again.

“The government reforms of 2014 have failed to stamp out the threats, intimidation and other bad behaviours that are all too common in the bailiff industry. Which is why in their forthcoming review, ministers need to look afresh at controlling the industry.

“Bailiffs need to be properly trained, managed, supervised and – above all – subject to independent oversight.

“Debt enforcement must no longer remain a Cinderella service in the world of financial regulation.”

The parliamentary group believes that its message is an important matter for public debate and for parliamentary consideration.

Ms Jones said: “I have been deeply touched not only by Jerome’s story, but by the dignified campaigning of his family to try to ensure that his situation acts as a catalyst for positive change.

“The lack of independent oversight of private-sector bailiff firms is shocking. MPs from all parties need to come together to bring about independent regulation of bailiffs and fundamental reform.”

Mr Rogers’s tragic story has been made into a BBC docu-drama for the Killed by My Debt series, which will air on BBC One at 9pm tonight.

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