As you may know, the Ministry of Justice is consulting on electoral reform, in particular the proposed abolition of the Edited Electoral Register.
The Credit Services Association (CSA) has spoken out strongly against the abolition which could mean that enforcement and collections agencies would no longer have access to the electoral register.
I couldn’t agree more. The Electoral Register is the single most comprehensive and reliable source of information for tracing debtors. Without it, there will be many more cases of untraceable debtors and mistaken identity. There was a recent story in the news about the consequences of mistaken identity (not one of ours thank goodness!).
To give a bit of background, the edited electoral register was set up in 2002 to allow voters to opt out of having their data sold. Prior to 2002, anyone could buy the full register. The Data Sharing Review published in July 2008 recommended that data stop being sold to anyone other than political parties and credit reference agencies and that the edited version should therefore be abolished.
The Ministry of Justice set up a consultation period and is looking at six options:
- Abolish the electoral register as soon as is practical
- Set a timescale for its abolition
- Abolish it as soon as is practical but allow more companies to buy the full register
- Keep the edited register but restrict who can buy it and for what purpose
- Change the opt out option to an opt in
- Improve guidance to the public about the edited register
From our industry perspective, option 3 would be workable, as would 4 and 5. I will let you know as soon as a decision is made.