Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away

Series 1 - Episode 1

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In the UK, people now owe over £4 billion more than they did a decade ago. With debt rising, collecting and repossessing assets has become a booming business. One of the first things to go is the car. Hundreds are repossessed every week, with more and more people getting that dreaded knock on the door.

Cameras follow repossession experts Mike Allonby and Terry Jones as they travel the streets, looking for cars belonging to people with outstanding unpaid loans. Such vehicles are rarely parked at the debtor’s address. Theirs is an often fruitless and stressful business, since they are paid only for successful repossession. One job takes them to Liverpool to collect a Renault Clio from a tough estate, but what begins as a straightforward repossession soon escalates into a violent confrontation, criminal damage and a call to the police.

Meanwhile, High Court Enforcement Officers Paul Bohill and Steve Pinner seek to recover bad debts from those who cannot, or will not, pay. Commonly known as Sheriffs, they are the officers that people turn to when all other avenues have failed. They have the power to seize cash, possessions and even your home if you have fallen behind with your payments.

Paul and Steve are regularly thrust into deeply traumatic and unsettling situations. A call from them usually has life-changing consequences, and as emotions usually run high they wear protective vests for every job.

First on their job list is taxi-driver and army veteran Neil, whom they evict with two hours’ notice from his home of 19 years – for a debt of almost £30,000. They then go to Slough to evict a family of sitting tenants from their home, which they have occupied for two years.

The series follows each case as it unfolds, from the moment the teams arrive, through the often highly charged first encounter with the debtor, to the moment the job is done, recording the thoughts and feelings on both sides, the process of repossession and the impact it has on all involved. The result is a visceral insight into one of the biggest issues in Credit Crunch Britain today.

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