Corporate social responsibility

Ethical. Transparent. Accountable.

Our business depends on taking our responsibilities seriously and keeping our commitments to stakeholders: for clients, customers and taxpayers.

Being accountable for our policies and practices means producing tangible results that benefit all stakeholders and make a positive impact on the workplace, marketplace, community and environment in which we operate. By doing so we believe are making a valuable contribution to help shape the standards of the industry.

The business case for being a responsible business has been researched by Business in the Community.

“Responsible business is not a trade-off between people, planet and profit – companies should be expanding the connections between societal and economic progress and looking at innovative ways to integrate responsible business practices into their core practices.”

“A divide is emerging between those that embrace sustainability-driven strategy and management, and those that don’t. These ‘embracers’ are the businesses that will survive and thrive and to help those currently at an earlier stage of the journey, we need to provide the proof – the argument and numbers – that show why and how responsible business practices build successful organisations, to help them define those materially relevant to them.”

From the foreword by Professor David Grayson, CBE and Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community.

See the report

The Ethics Committee regularly reviews the progress of our many Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives: their co-ordination, consistency, measurement and development. Here are a few examples of how our sense of responsibility touches every part of our organisation.

In the workplace

We believe all our staff and agents have the right to the most professional training and equipment, to prepare them for the safe, ethical performance of their duties and to improve their careers.

They are reviewed through a continuous cycle of audits, inspections and improvement plans based on consistent policies, quality managed procedures and a performance management framework that is designed to ensure they live up to our standards (and codes of conduct) and deliver structured opportunities for learning and development.

We have also created an initiative to encourage staff to complete an NVQ qualification as part of our commitment to the government’s Skills Pledge. The Train to Gain scheme offers work-related and competence-based qualifications that complement day-to-day roles and responsibilities in vocational subjects such as Customer Care, Business Administration and Leadership & Management.

In the marketplace

Our vision and values reflect our responsibilities as leaders in the judicial services industry. In everything we do we make a positive contribution that promotes the professional and ethical reputation of compliance and enforcement.

Our senior management team takes an active role in driving industry reform (Gareth Hughes, thought leadership) and is represented on almost every associated professional body including CIVEA, BPA, IRRV, HCEOA and CCUA. This includes maintaining our professional standards through a wide range of accreditations and memberships. Our restless approach to innovation is also fuelled by seeking long-term sustainable partnerships with our suppliers.

Our Advisory Group measures progress in our duties to taxpayers and ensure that the outcomes recommended by our ongoing ethical audit are appropriately met and implemented. The Group also provides us with invaluable external insight and ideas from leading authorities and industry professionals and we actively lobby on behalf of the industry with the help of expert political affairs advisors (Mark Glover, Bellenden).

Our commitment to transparency means we openly publish summaries of our ethical audits, client account audits, staff surveys and annual reports.

We believe our performance extends to our commitment to provide world-class customer service. The standards of customer care and rigorous management of complaints provide both a source of positive motivation for our teams and vital reassurance for customers, clients and our agents.

In the community

We believe we have a responsibility to support local communities and to make a positive difference to those who work for, or in partnership with us. As a prominent employer in each of our core regions, we are committed to creating skilled jobs and fostering professional careers through recruitment and training.

The high standards of professional conduct we expect from all of our agents, who receive specific training on awareness and procedures of compliance, treating customers fairly, and equality and diversity, has a substantial impact on the communities we serve. By exercising sensitivity over cultural, religious and community events, we do not seek to disrupt communities in the course of carrying out our duties. A professional, firm but fair approach ensures all cases are handled sensitively and with respect, and this is demonstrated by the dramatic results we achieve in amicable (pre-enforcement) recoveries.

We are exploring ways of further improving our services by working closely with the advice sector, with whom we have closely aligned objectives. We have no interest in enforcing against customers that do not have the means to pay, or those that are potentially vulnerable. Our shared challenge is how to differentiate between customers that do not have the means to pay, or are genuinely vulnerable, from those that may be misrepresenting their position in order to avoid complying with the terms of their court orders. We have a partnership with StepChange, the debt advice charity, and we engage with the Enforcement Law Reform Group, Citizens Advice, Bailiff Advice Online, the Consumer Action Group and Legal Beagles. We are working to develop these relationships further, with fast track case reporting, and with the formation of working groups to explore ways of further building trust and rapport.

We are also strong supporters of both local and national charities, in particular through our Charitable Trust. Our involvement goes beyond financial support, as our staff, including our directors, contribute a significant amount of time to numerous charities throughout the year, as well as providing operational and technical support where needed.

In the environment

By minimising our environmental impact and making resource efficiency a core requirement of our operations, we have achieved the ISO 14001:2004 certification for our Environmental Management System.

Even before this, we had already introduced handheld tablets that reduced paper-based records, improved accuracy and increased the speed of information to our enforcement agents. We also included low-emission vehicles to our fleet.

Our ongoing investment in process redesign and service innovation, enabled by technology, continues to increase efficiency and reduce our environmental impact as we seek to:

  • minimise waste and pollution;
  • use post-consumer recycled paper where possible;
  • minimise the need for transportation and to use fuels that are ecologically sensitive, such as unleaded petrol or low-sulphur diesel; and
  • conserve energy by correct use and maintenance of heating, lighting and office equipment.