Episode 1 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 1

Series following high court enforcement officers. A budding property developer has lost out after squatters took over his building.


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Transcript


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Meet the sheriffs.

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My name's Mr Grix. My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

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It's to do with a High Court order.

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They work for the High Court, and if it says you're owed money,

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it's their job to go and get it.

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I'm here for £6,072.18.

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They can demand payment on the spot...

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I'm here for the full balance.

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How are you going to pay it?

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..or remove assets instead.

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The car will be going unless you can pay it.

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You'll have a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.

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Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.

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I wouldn't do that if I were you.

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The door needs to stay open.

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Every year, in England and Wales,

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unpaid debts totalling more than £80 million

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are recovered by the sheriffs.

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Coming up, a budding property developer's lost out

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after squatters took over his building.

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We have subsidised the squatters,

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approximately £20,000.

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When the sheriffs tried to evict them,

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they get more than they bargained for.

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Didn't see all that, did you?

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There's confusion when Tommy and Craig chase money

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owed by a clothing manufacturer...

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..only their story doesn't check out.

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It transpires the arrangement they had in place, they've defaulted on.

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A locksmith's done a botched job on Pete Mullany's door.

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The mechanism was the wrong one.

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The whole frame and everything was damaged.

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It was a bit of a disaster.

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The boss of the company responsible doesn't want to cooperate.

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But can Ken change his mind?

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That's what I like to see, plenty of stock in the shop.

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And Lawrence and Kev are on the hunt for a stables manager

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who owes money.

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Hello?

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No sign of anybody, is there?

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The place is deserted, but can they get the debtor's attention?

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HORN BEEPS

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Return to the stables immediately please,

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so that we can deal with this.

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This morning, enforcement agent Ken Warby

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is in his usual North London patch.

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He's heading to a shop in Barnet, in pursuit of an unpaid debt.

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On the face of it, it looks like a run-of-the-mill job,

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but he's about to be reminded

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that it takes some people longer than others

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to come to terms with the realities of High Court enforcement.

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We are going to visit a company called All Service For You.

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I believe they're a security company.

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To be precise, All Service For You Ltd

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is a locksmiths,

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and their debt of more than £2,000 all began

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with a surprisingly simple problem,

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a broken lock on the front door

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of Pete Mullany's family home in Stockport.

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The locks themselves wasn't shutting properly,

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such that when you shut the door,

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it was just slightly sticking out a bit,

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so the locks had probably been in there 20 years,

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and they just needed replacing.

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Pete and his wife called around locksmiths for quotes,

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before settling on All Service For You,

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thinking it was a local company.

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It wasn't until we found out a little bit further on in the process

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that the company was based in London,

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and they'd outsourced it to local contractors to pick up the deal.

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So it wasn't kind of what we were hoping for.

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And when a workman came to fix the lock,

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it didn't exactly go as planned.

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It's a composite door with its own unique locking mechanism,

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and the mechanism that he put in was the wrong one,

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so as a result, there was loads of holes everywhere,

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which had been filled in with Polyfilla.

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The door was slightly damaged, as well,

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and at the bottom, didn't shut properly.

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You could actually see the light coming through,

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the wind blowing through into the hallway.

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So all told, it was a bit of a disaster.

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At first, it looked like All Service For You

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were keen to help and sent someone else out

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to fix the problem, only HE fared no better.

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He himself had to, in parts in the door, lathe down the door,

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and as a consequence of lathing down the door,

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he actually splintered all the door, so the damage got worse.

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This time, when the Mullanys tried to complain,

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they found the company was less responsive.

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Calls and messages went unanswered and in the end, they just gave up,

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until several months later, when events spurred Pete into action.

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I went to slam the door and the actual splinter

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started to come away,

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and that's when I realised that this job wasn't good enough.

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So what I did, I did two things, really.

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I checked the original invoice that we got for the locks.

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They'd put one-year warranty, so I thought I was within that one year,

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so still within my rights to do something about it.

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So I contacted them and asked them to ring me,

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sent all the pictures again, and as usual, they never got back.

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Pete decided he wasn't going to take it lying down,

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and following guidance given him by Citizens' Advice,

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got a second opinion.

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I contacted a local master locksmith.

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He came round,

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and originally, we'd been looking at this as to settle the damage

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for the lock, but it was him who pointed out

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that the whole doorframe and everything was damaged,

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and suddenly, it ramped up from just replacing the locks

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to actually the whole door and the whole frame.

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Pete made a claim against All Service For You Ltd

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through the County Courts,

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and when they didn't offer a defence, he won a default judgment.

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But weeks down the line, there's still no sign of his money.

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I've still not received any correspondence from the defendant

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as to whether he's paying this money,

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so I'm getting pretty desperate and I'm just thinking,

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"What do I need to do?"

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More than anything, we need to get that door sorted.

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Three daughters in the house,

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my constant fear is that someone could break that door down.

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When it rains heavily, we're always scared about ingress of water

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coming into the house. When it's windy,

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you can hear it whistling through the bottom of the door.

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Desperate to get his money, and with the law on his side,

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Pete's escalated the case to the High Court

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and called in the sheriffs.

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I'm hoping that they are going to get that money for me,

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because this has been a mega process,

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and it just feels like if it falls at the last step,

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I'll be absolutely devastated.

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In Barnet, Ken's on his way to the shop

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where All Service For You are thought to trade.

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Since Pete enlisted the sheriffs' help to get his money back,

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there have been further legal developments, but Ken is undeterred.

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I know that there was an application...

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..to get the judgment set aside,

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which has recently been thrown out of court,

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so we are good to go on it.

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As he reaches the address,

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it seems the name of the shop doesn't quite match

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the name on his writ.

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37, All Time Security...

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But it's probably just a trading name for the same business,

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and Ken likes what he sees.

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Walk straight in the shop front, that should be easy enough.

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Little does Ken know the extent to which his patience will be tested,

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but he does at least find a nice place for the car.

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That's a good little spot. It's free...

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..and it's literally over the road.

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Time for Ken to discover whether the company's planning

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-to finally pay up for Pete's door.

-Hello.

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All Service For You Ltd?

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Yes.

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I need to speak to the person in charge.

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It's the right company,

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and the woman behind the desk quickly finds the manager.

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My name is Mr Warby.

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OK.

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This is regarding a judgment from an individual called Mr Pete Mullany.

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I think you know about it,

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because I think you tried to get the judgment set aside.

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OK. And what was the outcome?

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The sheriffs are used to arguing with people

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who think their cases are still ongoing,

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but as this man's appeal was rejected yesterday,

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he should know exactly where he stands.

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-Yes.

-So far, so good.

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Or maybe not.

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The man believes that his intention to appeal again

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means he doesn't have to pay,

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but that's not what the law says.

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The locksmiths were ordered to pay Mr Mullany nearly two months ago,

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and this man's attempt to get the judgment overturned has failed.

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The situation's this...

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These now have a High Court judgment against you,

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so I'm here for the full balance.

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After costs, it's now £2,311, that's what I'm here for.

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The man now says he's willing to pay the original judgment debt,

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without costs and fees,

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but the time to pay this lower figure has long gone.

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The amount with Sheriffs' fees currently stands at £2,311.50.

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Yeah...

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At this point, our camera is asked to leave.

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Inside, Ken attempts to explain to the manager

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that he needs to find more than two grand pretty quickly,

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or else goods will be removed from the shop.

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But the man doesn't like what he's hearing and closes the shutters,

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trapping Ken inside.

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Ken follows protocol and calls the police.

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For 25 minutes, the discussion continues behind closed doors,

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until eventually, the shutters reopen.

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The boss thinks he's found a loophole in Ken's paperwork

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and wants to show us.

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The address on the writ is the company's registered office,

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not here, where they are trading from.

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Thinking he's onto a winner, the boss lets us back in.

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But he's barking up the wrong tree.

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Sheriffs can attend anywhere the debtor resides

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or carries out a trade or business.

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Yeah, we're instructed by the client to attend here,

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so that is an extension for the writ.

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To be here.

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The manager seems to think it's unreasonable for the claimant

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to want the money he's legally owed.

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Ken decides the easiest thing is to just wait for backup.

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I want it done amicably, OK? I want the police here,

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just so they can let you know because you won't take it from me,

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that we are within our rights to be here,

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and that we can remove goods from here.

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Maybe you'll have it from the police officer,

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and if he then can't convince you,

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I'll call up the van and we'll remove goods.

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Later, as he starts listing goods for potential removal...

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I can go wherever I want, mate.

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..Ken gets locked in again.

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Using the county courts to try to recover money you're owed

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isn't difficult. 1.5 million money claims

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are made every year in England and Wales,

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involving anything from faulty goods or poor workmanship,

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to unpaid invoices.

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Claims can be filed by post or online for a small fee.

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Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence,

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and you may have to attend a court hearing.

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If you're successful,

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a County Court Judgment or CCJ will be issued against the debtor.

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And if they still don't pay, that's when you call the sheriffs.

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It's 6am in Brixton, South London.

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All right, I'll give out a couple of copies of the writ.

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Under the cover of darkness,

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the sheriffs are quietly preparing to carry out an eviction

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on a group of squatters.

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They've taken over a nearby commercial premises,

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and it's the job of team leader Mark King

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to take it back for the owner.

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The client has said there is potentially

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up to 15 people in there.

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We'll give them the opportunity to get their stuff together.

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If they don't, or they mess about or become aggressive or anything,

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they'll just be removed from the property.

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The building is owned by Julien Gressier.

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He works in the fashion industry but with a background in architecture,

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also has a sideline in small-scale property development.

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For me, it's about doing something that I like doing

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and trying to make a living,

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while creating homes which are desperately needed, you know,

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in the UK and in London.

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The property in question is a commercial building,

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which, until recently, was used to sell car parts.

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But Julien is hoping to develop it

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into a mix of residential and commercial units.

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It is currently a large warehouse on two floors, probably 1930s built,

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industrial to some extent,

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which is very much part of the DNA of the building

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which we want to retain.

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However, shortly after buying it at auction,

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Julien was informed that squatters had moved in.

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As the building had been empty for a few months,

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at first he was sympathetic, and went to speak to them.

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They were keen on some sort of deal whereby they stay in the place,

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look after it, and it wouldn't deteriorate any further.

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To some extent, we were probably open to discussion,

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but I think came a point where we fairly quickly realised

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that they were taking the mickey, if you can use that!

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The squatters are preventing access to the building

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which Julien needs to progress the works,

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and because he was unable to persuade them to leave,

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he's embarking on the legal process of getting them removed.

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He's ploughed all his savings into this project,

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and reckons the squatters' intervention

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has cost him a small fortune.

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We are paying, every month.

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Business rates are probably about £3,000 a month on the place.

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We were potentially looking at doing short-term rentals

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for photo shoots and things like that

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which would have recovered some of these costs,

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which, again, now is not possible at all.

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Overall...

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We have subsidised the squatters by approximately £20,000.

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Julien has now obtained a writ of possession from the courts,

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which means he can legally evict the squatters, but even so,

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he's made one last-ditch effort to get them to leave peacefully.

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We were saying, "Look, we've got now all the paperwork in place,

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"tomorrow, we can get the team to literally throw you out.

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"We thought we'd come, you know, it would save us some money,

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"save you some hassle,

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"let's come to some agreement maybe next week or something.

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"You know, you can move out without having to go through that."

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They were very much defiant.

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I think by now I feel that I'm probably being a bit naive and...

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And they're just, you know, taking advantage.

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It's now down to the sheriffs to finish the job.

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Julien's sure that one way or another,

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he'll get the property back,

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but he's worried about what state it might be in.

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The squatters have now been in the property for nearly a month,

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a month and a half, maybe nearly two months?

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We have been told by neighbours

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that there are approximately 30 people in there,

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dogs as well, so we don't know how bad it's going to be.

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While the squatters are asleep,

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the sheriffs are getting ready to make their move.

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Team leader Mark King is no stranger to the tricks

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squatters can employ to keep the authorities out,

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so he's doing a recce with locksmith Andy

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to find out what they might be up against,

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and it doesn't look good.

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Just had a look, all the shutters around the front and the side

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are padlocked or locked up.

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Don't look like they're being used.

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There are two doors which are both locked,

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but they're barricaded on the inside.

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Barricaded doors are bad news for the sheriffs.

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They want to gain access quickly and quietly

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before the squatters are awake and can cause any trouble.

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So Mark needs to choose which of the doors

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he thinks will be the easiest for the team to force open.

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Just get the door open.

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He opts for one which he thinks the squatters might be using

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to go in and out themselves, and gives the go-ahead.

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Knock it in.

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The door is putting up a fight, but persistence pays off.

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And with a bit of elbow grease, the sheriffs manage to prise it open.

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All right. Hold on, hold on.

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What's behind it, though, is going to be much more of a problem.

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That ain't the way they're coming in, then.

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The doorway's thoroughly barricaded.

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The sheriffs throw everything at it they can.

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Someone else give it a go.

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But they've lost the element of surprise,

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so Mark might as well appeal to the squatters directly.

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Right, listen, fellas.

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We're enforcement officers with a High Court writ.

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We're coming in. You need to start packing up your stuff, yeah?

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What the sheriffs don't want is to give the squatters enough time

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to create any more obstacles...

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..especially as the heavily fortified barricade

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they're already up against isn't showing any signs of budging.

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Keep going at that one.

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Mark can't afford to waste any more time,

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so turns his attention to the shutters instead.

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That doesn't prove to be much easier, but eventually,

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they managed to force a gap just wide enough to squeeze through.

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-All right, we're in, we're in.

-Go, go, go.

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Once inside, they set about waking everyone up and moving them out.

0:18:220:18:26

Right, you need to pack your stuff straightaway.

0:18:280:18:30

You've got ten minutes.

0:18:300:18:32

All right, fella, get your stuff packed up.

0:18:320:18:34

You need to leave, yeah?

0:18:340:18:36

Half-asleep squatters aren't the easiest to get motivated.

0:18:370:18:40

And it's not only people that need to leave.

0:18:430:18:46

We've got dogs, yeah.

0:18:460:18:48

-Yeah, three upstairs.

-All right. OK.

0:18:480:18:49

As the squatters slowly start to get their possessions together,

0:18:510:18:54

Mark reviews his tactical entry.

0:18:540:18:56

We chose the wrong door, really, didn't we?!

0:18:580:19:01

But you can't, you can't tell until you get inside.

0:19:010:19:05

I mean, we would have got through that eventually.

0:19:050:19:08

Either way, they're in,

0:19:090:19:11

and it seems like the squatters accept the game's up.

0:19:110:19:14

They were throwing stuff against the door first off,

0:19:140:19:17

but once we're in, they're just packing up, aren't they?

0:19:170:19:21

Because they know what's happening.

0:19:210:19:22

The sheriffs' priority now

0:19:260:19:27

is to try to get the squatters to remove as many of their possessions

0:19:270:19:31

as possible, preferably quickly.

0:19:310:19:34

Well, ideally...

0:19:340:19:35

..we don't want them to be here too long,

0:19:370:19:38

because the longer we're here, the more it's costing the client, but...

0:19:380:19:43

..on the other hand, we want them to take their possessions,

0:19:450:19:48

because if they've got their stuff,

0:19:480:19:50

then they're not going to want to get back in here.

0:19:500:19:53

DOG BARKS

0:19:530:19:56

And this group certainly has a lot of stuff.

0:19:560:19:58

While the squatters' possessions pile up on the pavement outside,

0:20:010:20:05

Mark has a look around the premises.

0:20:050:20:07

He's seen worse, but like many squatted premises,

0:20:070:20:11

it's been left in a bit of a state.

0:20:110:20:12

One of their bedrooms,

0:20:140:20:16

which is probably some old office or something.

0:20:160:20:19

Normally, they take their mattresses with them,

0:20:190:20:21

but they've not bothered this time.

0:20:210:20:25

So far, things are all going smoothly enough.

0:20:250:20:27

Just when it looks like this eviction

0:20:270:20:29

might pass without incident,

0:20:290:20:31

the mood starts to change.

0:20:310:20:33

Just come and go, get your stuff, if you carry on, listen,

0:20:340:20:37

if you carry on playing up, yeah,

0:20:370:20:38

it's going to affect other people getting their stuff, OK?

0:20:380:20:40

Come and get your stuff as you need to, and that's it.

0:20:400:20:43

Another of the squatters isn't keen on having their 15 minutes of fame,

0:20:430:20:47

and is obstructing our cameraman.

0:20:470:20:49

-Just leave her alone.

-No, I'm in the street, you're not police,

0:20:490:20:52

you do your job, this is a public highway.

0:20:520:20:54

Yeah, it's a public highway.

0:20:540:20:56

When the sheriffs step in, tempers flare.

0:20:560:20:59

Don't touch me, not in a public place, don't touch me.

0:20:590:21:02

I'm not touching anything.

0:21:020:21:04

Not touching anything.

0:21:040:21:05

Hey, hey, hey, hey!

0:21:050:21:07

Look, just calm down, fellas.

0:21:070:21:10

-Do you want to get arrested?

-Why?

0:21:100:21:12

Do you want to get arrested?

0:21:120:21:13

-We're in the street.

-Well then, stop.

0:21:130:21:15

You don't want to make things worse for everyone else out here.

0:21:150:21:18

The squatters are becoming more and more agitated.

0:21:180:21:21

The situation is starting to turn ugly.

0:21:210:21:24

Watch me! Hey, hey, hey!

0:21:250:21:27

Try and burn me again with it, and I will chuck it.

0:21:270:21:29

-No.

-You don't... You are grabbing me.

0:21:290:21:32

You just tried to burn me with your cigarette.

0:21:320:21:34

Don't grab me. This woman is grabbing me.

0:21:340:21:36

I'm not doing anything.

0:21:360:21:37

No-one else to go back in now.

0:21:380:21:40

No-one goes in now, Rupert.

0:21:400:21:42

What?

0:21:420:21:43

Take a step back.

0:21:430:21:44

-What?

-Take a step back, take a step back.

0:21:440:21:46

No-one's going back in there because she's messing about.

0:21:460:21:48

Enough is enough.

0:21:500:21:52

With some of the squatters getting aggressive,

0:21:520:21:54

the sheriffs take the decision not to let anyone else back in.

0:21:540:21:58

Whatever possessions are inside will have to be left behind.

0:21:580:22:01

So it's now all the more important the building's well and truly secured,

0:22:020:22:06

so they don't break back in later.

0:22:060:22:09

Locksmith Andy's already on the case,

0:22:100:22:12

and there is at least one door where the job's been done for him.

0:22:120:22:16

Yeah, a bit of barricading from the front.

0:22:160:22:19

So I don't think Andy will do anything with that,

0:22:190:22:21

because it's as good as it's going to be.

0:22:210:22:23

As the new locks go on, the squatters start to disperse.

0:22:250:22:29

But just as it appears that the tensions have been defused,

0:22:290:22:32

one man who was causing trouble earlier comes back for more...

0:22:320:22:36

A MAN SHOUTS

0:22:360:22:37

..kicking our cameraman in the shins as a parting shot.

0:22:370:22:41

We don't care. You're not welcome.

0:22:410:22:43

He's just doing his job. Leave him alone.

0:22:430:22:46

That's the last we see of him, though,

0:22:460:22:48

and as the final stragglers head on their way,

0:22:480:22:50

the sheriffs' work is done.

0:22:500:22:53

All the locks have been changed.

0:22:530:22:55

All the padlocks, exterior locks, door locks, everything.

0:22:550:22:59

The property's secure.

0:22:590:23:00

Um...

0:23:000:23:02

just got to sign vacant possession to the client,

0:23:020:23:05

and then it's time for breakfast.

0:23:050:23:07

The property is now back in the hands of the owner,

0:23:100:23:13

and, a few weeks later, we're catching up with him.

0:23:130:23:16

Julien says the damage turned out to be far worse

0:23:160:23:20

than he had feared.

0:23:200:23:21

You had the alarm system that they ripped out,

0:23:230:23:26

you had the copper pipes, which were pretty much running all across,

0:23:280:23:32

that they nicked.

0:23:320:23:33

You know, chopped them off, sold for scrap, I guess.

0:23:330:23:37

The worst was actually all the rubbish that we had to get rid of.

0:23:370:23:40

That was probably about £3,000 to get rid of it.

0:23:400:23:44

But with the clear-up complete, the space is now usable once more.

0:23:460:23:50

It's being hired for photo shoots as planned,

0:23:500:23:53

while the details of the redevelopment are finalised.

0:23:530:23:56

Julien is relieved to have his project back on track.

0:23:560:24:00

I'm really happy I got the place back.

0:24:000:24:02

It was pretty much two months of delay,

0:24:020:24:06

but it's now behind us.

0:24:060:24:09

I have to thank the sheriffs very much

0:24:090:24:11

for their...for their help.

0:24:110:24:14

And for giving us the space back, really.

0:24:140:24:16

Goods and services must meet expectations,

0:24:280:24:30

or else the buyer is usually entitled to their money back.

0:24:300:24:34

Much of the sheriffs' work concerns cases like these,

0:24:340:24:37

and while they might feel they've seen it all,

0:24:370:24:40

there are still jobs that throw up surprises.

0:24:400:24:42

In the South-east, enforcement agents Lawrence Grix

0:24:450:24:48

and Kev McNally are heading into the countryside.

0:24:480:24:51

We are in Horsham in West Sussex today.

0:24:520:24:54

We're going to West Sussex Livery.

0:24:550:24:58

The debt is relating to...

0:24:590:25:01

HE CHUCKLES

0:25:050:25:06

Is that a wind-up?

0:25:070:25:09

What is the debt relating to?

0:25:090:25:11

Kev can barely believe it,

0:25:130:25:14

but the dispute began with the purchase of some

0:25:140:25:17

horse semen, as Lawrence explains.

0:25:170:25:21

Apparently, our claimant's mare, um,

0:25:210:25:25

was due to be impregnated by the debtor's stallion.

0:25:250:25:28

I don't know if it was artificial or if they actually covered the mare.

0:25:280:25:31

But the mare didn't get pregnant.

0:25:310:25:34

Test results on the stallion's semen revealed it was substandard,

0:25:350:25:39

and was therefore unlikely to result in a pregnancy.

0:25:390:25:42

This is basically the money she paid for the...

0:25:420:25:45

..for the duff semen.

0:25:460:25:48

THEY LAUGH

0:25:490:25:50

It may not be your typical case, but the law works the same nonetheless.

0:25:510:25:56

After the mare's owner was refused a refund,

0:25:560:25:58

she took West Sussex Livery to court - and won.

0:25:580:26:02

That was six months ago, and with costs and fees,

0:26:020:26:05

the stables now owes £2,273.

0:26:050:26:09

Kev reckons he's got a pretty good idea of what assets

0:26:130:26:16

they're likely to find.

0:26:160:26:18

There's going to be stuff to remove at a stables, you presume.

0:26:180:26:21

I suppose, potentially, horses but, in reality,

0:26:230:26:27

that's not going to be happening.

0:26:270:26:28

But if that's the only asset they've got, we have to take it.

0:26:280:26:31

We're not going to take any horses.

0:26:310:26:33

THEY LAUGH

0:26:330:26:34

As they approach the location the claimant's given them,

0:26:360:26:39

Lawrence realises they've got a problem.

0:26:390:26:41

Access to the stables seems to be through a neighbouring farm,

0:26:410:26:45

and the sheriffs aren't entitled to just go wherever they like.

0:26:450:26:49

The stables are out the back here.

0:26:500:26:52

But we can't cross third-party premises to get into

0:26:520:26:54

where we're going.

0:26:540:26:56

We can't cross somebody else's land.

0:26:560:26:58

At least not without their permission.

0:26:590:27:01

The sheriffs pull up outside a back entrance to the farm

0:27:010:27:04

and try their luck.

0:27:040:27:06

See, it's shut.

0:27:080:27:09

The sheriffs might have stumbled at the first fence.

0:27:090:27:13

If they were to get into the property improperly,

0:27:130:27:16

any subsequent action they take could be overturned by a judge.

0:27:160:27:21

Here, go on, hop up. Just...

0:27:210:27:22

pull yourself up and have a butchers.

0:27:230:27:25

But the law doesn't stop them from taking a look.

0:27:270:27:31

-The door's open here.

-Oh, what, the door into the building?

0:27:310:27:34

There's someone... The door's open here.

0:27:350:27:38

Is it? Hello?!

0:27:380:27:40

There's no answer.

0:27:400:27:42

But Kev's pretty sure they're in the right place.

0:27:420:27:45

I did see one of the horses' heads sticking out.

0:27:450:27:48

I'm not sure if it was the, uh,

0:27:480:27:51

the horse in question.

0:27:510:27:52

From his elevated position,

0:27:540:27:55

Kev has also spotted a track which might be another way in.

0:27:550:27:58

They get back in the van and go and look for a second entrance.

0:28:000:28:04

If we go out of the lane,

0:28:050:28:06

turn left back the way we came...

0:28:070:28:09

-Yeah.

-Oh, this is it, Yeah, look, look, look.

0:28:100:28:13

This is exactly where we were knocking.

0:28:130:28:15

They've found it, and it doesn't look like they'll have any problem

0:28:150:28:18

getting in after all.

0:28:180:28:19

That gate will open.

0:28:190:28:21

-Shall I go in that way?

-Yes, please, mate, yeah.

0:28:210:28:24

Having finally found the premises, they head in to look for the owner,

0:28:280:28:32

a woman called Anne Hawes.

0:28:320:28:34

Hello?

0:28:350:28:37

Hello?

0:28:370:28:39

-Hello?

-Anybody around?

0:28:390:28:41

But the only signs of life are either equine...

0:28:410:28:44

Horses. Big heads.

0:28:440:28:46

..or canine.

0:28:460:28:47

There's dogs here.

0:28:470:28:49

Hello, pups.

0:28:490:28:51

They might be cute but the sheriffs didn't come here for puppies.

0:28:520:28:56

-Hello?

-There's no sign of anybody, is there?

0:28:560:28:59

Deserted.

0:28:590:29:01

Where is everyone, Lawrence?

0:29:010:29:03

-Don't know, mate.

-Do you not think that's odd?

0:29:030:29:06

Someone has been here recently. Everything's open,

0:29:060:29:10

there's half a dozen horses and the stables are clearly working.

0:29:100:29:13

Whether they've made themselves scarce after seeing the sheriffs

0:29:140:29:17

arrive, or just popped out for lunch, without making contact,

0:29:170:29:21

there's not much Lawrence and Kev can do.

0:29:210:29:25

Feel like we're in the Walking Dead.

0:29:250:29:27

I can't believe there's nobody here.

0:29:290:29:31

They're in a sticky situation. The animals and equipment here

0:29:340:29:38

could well belong to clients of the stables,

0:29:380:29:40

and there's no way of knowing what, if anything, belongs to the debtor.

0:29:400:29:44

-I don't think anyone's here, Lawrence.

-I don't.

0:29:440:29:47

Lawrence has a number for the woman

0:29:470:29:49

who runs the place, but gets no answer.

0:29:490:29:52

This is a message for Anne Hawes.

0:29:530:29:54

My name is Mr Grix. I'm an enforcement agent.

0:29:540:29:57

I've got a High Court writ against West Sussex Livery.

0:29:570:29:59

I'm actually at the stables at the moment.

0:29:590:30:02

Would you be able to ring me back, please,

0:30:020:30:04

or return to the stables immediately, please,

0:30:040:30:06

so that we can deal with this? Thank you.

0:30:060:30:08

Kev makes a final desperate plea to get someone's attention.

0:30:100:30:13

HE BEEPS HORN

0:30:130:30:16

But even that goes unheard.

0:30:190:30:22

It appears deserted but you wouldn't expect them to just disappear,

0:30:220:30:25

so we're just going to sit here for a little while in case somebody

0:30:250:30:28

comes back. Or as is sometimes the case,

0:30:280:30:31

on jobs like this,

0:30:310:30:33

the first thing you know is the police turn up.

0:30:330:30:35

People put in a call to the police saying "Oh, there's people on my

0:30:350:30:38

"land, there's people doing this, people doing that."

0:30:380:30:41

After waiting it out,

0:30:440:30:45

there's still no sign of either the police or the debtor.

0:30:450:30:48

And eventually, they have to call it a day.

0:30:480:30:52

They take down the registration numbers of the vehicles here

0:30:520:30:55

so that they can run some checks.

0:30:550:30:57

Lawrence prepares some paperwork, and with nowhere better to leave it,

0:30:570:31:00

Kev tucks it under the gate latch as they leave.

0:31:000:31:03

Anyone getting in is seeing that.

0:31:040:31:07

The job might seem like it's a bit of a 'mare but, in fact,

0:31:070:31:11

it turns out to be quite the opposite.

0:31:110:31:13

While the sheriffs never managed to meet Ms Hawes in person,

0:31:140:31:18

the paperwork does have the desired effect.

0:31:180:31:21

Shortly after their visit, she paid the £2,273 owing,

0:31:210:31:26

and the claimant has finally got their money back.

0:31:260:31:29

If you've won a County Court Judgment and haven't been paid,

0:31:340:31:37

for £66, you can get the case transferred up to the High Court,

0:31:370:31:41

which will issue a writ for enforcement by the sheriffs.

0:31:410:31:44

My job is to collect in full or remove goods.

0:31:440:31:49

They've got special powers of entry.

0:31:490:31:51

We don't have to take any notice of your security protocol, I'm afraid.

0:31:510:31:54

And there's no limit on the size of the debts they can pursue.

0:31:540:31:57

£1.6 million.

0:31:570:31:59

If they're successful, they'll recover your money and costs

0:32:010:32:04

from the debtor.

0:32:040:32:05

Have you got the cash now, then?

0:32:050:32:07

As well as their own fees, which are set by the government.

0:32:070:32:10

-She's paid, the judgment is settled.

-Thank you very much.

0:32:100:32:13

If the sheriffs can't get your money,

0:32:130:32:16

they'll ask you to pay a fee of £75 plus VAT.

0:32:160:32:20

Back in Barnet, Sheriff Ken Warby is still in a high-street locksmiths -

0:32:240:32:28

All Service For You Ltd -

0:32:280:32:30

trying to convince the boss to pay up £2,311.

0:32:300:32:35

He says he's happy to pay the original court award,

0:32:360:32:39

but not the extra fees incurred after he didn't pay and the case was

0:32:390:32:42

transferred to the sheriffs.

0:32:420:32:44

He's adamant he's not going to pay our charges at all.

0:32:440:32:47

He'll pay the debt, he's not going to pay our charges.

0:32:470:32:50

He's spoken to his solicitor. His solicitor has advised him to pay.

0:32:500:32:53

But he's still not having it, he's just being very stubborn.

0:32:530:32:56

The police are still on their way because he says no-one's going

0:32:560:32:58

to be removing goods from here. Hopefully, when the police turn up,

0:32:580:33:01

they will advise him that we can remove goods from here

0:33:010:33:04

and he'll pay the debt in full.

0:33:040:33:06

Sorry, sir. I'm going to have to crack on with this.

0:33:130:33:15

So your charges will now apply, OK? You have been warned.

0:33:150:33:18

Ken calls for a removal truck...

0:33:190:33:21

meaning even more fees.

0:33:210:33:23

And he begins to make an inventory of assets in the shop.

0:33:230:33:26

But the boss isn't being very helpful.

0:33:260:33:29

Let's start with the key machine over there.

0:33:340:33:37

So, show me proof it's not yours.

0:33:400:33:42

OK. And the stock, for example?

0:33:470:33:49

OK.

0:33:500:33:51

Not really, not if we can help it.

0:33:540:33:55

You sure have.

0:33:570:33:58

Ken's not sure of a door lock's auction value,

0:34:000:34:03

but he's likely to need a lot of them to get close to the value of

0:34:030:34:06

the debt. So he needs to list everything he can find.

0:34:060:34:10

Only the boss isn't happy with him looking around.

0:34:100:34:13

I can go wherever I want, mate.

0:34:130:34:14

It's under the same roof.

0:34:180:34:20

The man once again sends our camera outside...

0:34:230:34:25

..locks the doors and closes the shutters.

0:34:310:34:34

Ken puts another call in to the police.

0:34:360:34:38

And they arrive shortly afterwards.

0:34:400:34:41

Hello?

0:34:470:34:48

Hello, it's the police.

0:34:500:34:52

Can you open the door, please? Thank you.

0:34:520:34:54

The police are let in, and it's still a relatively good-natured

0:34:570:35:00

atmosphere inside. But as the boss continues to repeat

0:35:000:35:03

the same arguments Ken's been listening to for the past two and a half hours,

0:35:030:35:07

patience is wearing thin.

0:35:070:35:09

The eventual sight of the removal truck is welcome relief.

0:35:110:35:14

Ken's hoping that will provide the incentive for the boss to pay.

0:35:140:35:18

Come in when you're ready, mate.

0:35:200:35:22

With a police escort, Ken and the removals man get to work.

0:35:220:35:26

But even when faced with the prospect of an almost completely

0:35:270:35:30

empty store, the boss still doesn't cave in.

0:35:300:35:33

Now the police have arrived, now the removal guy's arrived,

0:35:350:35:39

he's now claiming that there's other companies in here that own

0:35:390:35:42

certain things, so we're looking for invoices and stuff on that now as proof.

0:35:420:35:47

It's looking at the moment like he's not going to pay it.

0:35:470:35:49

He's digging his heels in, so I'm going to have to do the same.

0:35:490:35:52

And so the excruciating task of comparing thousands of locks and

0:35:520:35:56

parts against individual receipts continues.

0:35:560:35:59

Finally, as the first box of his stuff is set down in the lorry,

0:36:000:36:04

the boss reaches for his credit card and pays in full.

0:36:040:36:08

The saga is finally over.

0:36:080:36:10

He thought as soon as the police turn up that we would have to go.

0:36:100:36:14

I started listing stuff inside, the guy turned up to remove them,

0:36:140:36:18

and his bottle went. I knew he would pay in the end.

0:36:180:36:21

Despite a judge rejecting his appeal,

0:36:270:36:29

the man is still convinced he's in the right.

0:36:290:36:32

He says Mr Mullany tried to get the damage done to his door fixed after

0:36:320:36:36

their standard guarantee had expired.

0:36:360:36:38

But he's not helped himself.

0:36:520:36:54

By failing to pay when he was ordered to after the first court hearing,

0:36:540:36:58

and again when Ken turned up this morning,

0:36:580:37:00

his final bill is more than double the original judgment.

0:37:000:37:03

He ended up paying a whopping...

0:37:040:37:08

Drumroll...

0:37:080:37:10

£3,993.52.

0:37:100:37:12

He's had full fees on there. Stupid, really,

0:37:130:37:16

because all that could have been avoided.

0:37:160:37:18

All he wanted to do was pay the debt.

0:37:180:37:20

He didn't want to pay any of our charges at all.

0:37:200:37:22

And the upshot was, he's ended up paying a hell of a lot more than

0:37:220:37:27

what I originally went in there for, to the tune of over £1,500.

0:37:270:37:32

The boss might be wishing today had panned out differently,

0:37:320:37:36

but back in Stockport, his customer, Pete Mullany,

0:37:360:37:39

is more than happy with the outcome.

0:37:390:37:41

I'm just over the moon, really relieved.

0:37:410:37:44

The main thing now is to get this door repaired.

0:37:450:37:48

If I'm honest with you, I would have done the door before but I genuinely

0:37:480:37:51

thought it might be used as evidence at some point.

0:37:510:37:54

But I'm already intending to get a lad that I know quite well to come

0:37:540:37:57

and fix the door.

0:37:570:37:58

I think everyone has a good laugh at it when they come in

0:37:580:38:01

now and see the state that it's in at the minute.

0:38:010:38:04

While Ken's been embroiled in a stand-off at the locksmiths,

0:38:120:38:16

in the Midlands, enforcement agents Craig Wild and Tommy Coyle have a

0:38:160:38:20

very different kind of job on their hands.

0:38:200:38:23

They've got another writ of control for a company

0:38:230:38:26

which has fallen behind with payments to a supplier.

0:38:260:38:29

We're in Leicester today.

0:38:300:38:32

Off to see a company called Freedom Clothing Ltd.

0:38:320:38:35

The amount of money that's outstanding, just short of £11,000.

0:38:350:38:39

Freedom Clothing Ltd owes a debt to Jerseytex Ltd,

0:38:390:38:43

who've gone to court to get their money.

0:38:430:38:46

Freedom Clothing didn't defend the case,

0:38:460:38:48

so a default judgment was awarded against them.

0:38:480:38:51

They now owe £10,909.

0:38:510:38:55

Tommy and Craig are on their way to collect.

0:38:580:39:01

If they can find the place.

0:39:010:39:02

Here we are, then. What are we looking for?

0:39:030:39:05

Freedom Clothing Ltd.

0:39:050:39:07

-It's number eight.

-Is it?

-Yeah. It's number eight.

0:39:080:39:12

But when they can't find it, Craig has another look at the writ.

0:39:140:39:19

-We're looking for number...

-Nine.

0:39:190:39:22

-Eh?

-It's back there, behind us now.

0:39:220:39:24

Despite Craig's best efforts, the sheriffs locate the premises.

0:39:270:39:32

We're there, kid. We're there, kid.

0:39:320:39:34

There's parking right outside as well.

0:39:340:39:36

-Drop it here.

-I'm dropping it under here, yeah.

0:39:360:39:40

I think the gate's to the right, uh, to the left, mate,

0:39:400:39:42

-we just saw. The back door.

-Is this it?

0:39:420:39:45

Are you all right? Is it Freedom Clothing Ltd?

0:39:490:39:51

-Yeah.

-Enforcement agent.

0:39:510:39:53

Tommy heads to the office to tell the boss it's time to pay up.

0:39:540:39:58

-You all right, guys? Yeah.

-It's to do with a High Court order.

0:39:590:40:03

-Yeah.

-In the company name.

-Yes.

0:40:030:40:05

It's regarding Jerseytex Ltd, that's the creditor.

0:40:060:40:10

You can speak to them... At the moment...

0:40:140:40:17

You paid it in full to them, did you?

0:40:190:40:21

Yeah, at the moment,

0:40:260:40:28

it's been issued as a High Court order and they've instructed us...

0:40:280:40:31

-I can...

-By all means, yeah. If you want to call them.

0:40:310:40:34

There seems to be some confusion, but our camera is asked to leave

0:40:340:40:38

before Tommy can make sense of the man's story.

0:40:380:40:40

Inside, the company insists that they have an agreement with their

0:40:420:40:46

creditor and that they don't have to pay the sheriffs.

0:40:460:40:49

But they're not going to just take his word for it.

0:40:490:40:52

We haven't been notified of any arrangements.

0:40:520:40:55

If it hasn't been paid and the claimant says that there's no

0:40:550:40:59

arrangement in place, then our instructions are to carry on.

0:40:590:41:03

It's a small sort of textile workshop,

0:41:030:41:07

with probably about 10-15 machines at the back.

0:41:070:41:10

If they haven't got the funds, then we will be looking to remove it.

0:41:110:41:15

Whatever arrangement Freedom Clothing Ltd might think

0:41:160:41:19

they have to clear their debt,

0:41:190:41:21

from experience, the sheriffs know that in most cases like these,

0:41:210:41:24

they've been called out because the debtor has failed to keep up with

0:41:240:41:27

payments. And sure enough,

0:41:270:41:29

that's exactly what seems to have happened here.

0:41:290:41:32

Director's on the phone to the claimant because he's claiming he

0:41:320:41:35

had some sort of arrangement in place.

0:41:350:41:36

Tommy's spoken to the claimant and it transpired that the arrangement

0:41:360:41:40

they had in place, they've defaulted on,

0:41:400:41:43

so they want us to carry on.

0:41:430:41:46

Their High Court writ means the sheriffs can now insist the debt's

0:41:460:41:49

paid off in full.

0:41:490:41:51

Given the valuable assets in the unit,

0:41:510:41:53

and the company's previous failure to keep up with promised payments,

0:41:530:41:57

they don't plan to settle for anything less.

0:41:570:42:01

He's struggling to try and raise the money.

0:42:010:42:03

And in my view, he hasn't made sufficient efforts at the moment.

0:42:030:42:06

He's focusing his energies on trying to go back onto an arrangement

0:42:060:42:09

plan. Once we've actually focused his mind,

0:42:090:42:13

I'm sure he'll actually be able to get the money together.

0:42:130:42:17

The threat of his machines being removed soon does the trick.

0:42:170:42:20

The boss provides evidence of a £2,500 payment

0:42:210:42:25

that he's already made,

0:42:250:42:27

and once that's deducted from the bill,

0:42:270:42:29

he manages to come up with the rest of the money.

0:42:290:42:31

Yeah, it went pretty well. The gentleman was quite cooperative.

0:42:310:42:36

He had already made a payment.

0:42:360:42:38

It was just ironing out and making sure we could see evidence of that

0:42:380:42:42

payment he had already made to the claimant.

0:42:420:42:44

If he could produce that,

0:42:440:42:46

we actually had a quick conversation with the claimant as well,

0:42:460:42:49

we verified this, but they specify the payment needs to be paid in full

0:42:490:42:52

and he needs to deal with ourselves. And that's what he did.

0:42:520:42:56

He paid the balance in full.

0:42:560:42:58

Which was a £5,500 transfer and £3,000 in cash.

0:42:580:43:02

The supplier will now get the money they're owed.

0:43:020:43:05

A budding property developer has lost out after squatters took over his building, but the sheriffs get more than they have bargained for when they try to evict them.

There is confusion when sheriffs Tommy and Craig chase money owed by a clothing manufacturer whose story doesn't check out.

A locksmith has done a botched job, but when the sheriffs turn up with a high court writ, the company responsible doesn't want to cooperate.

Lawrence and Kev are on the hunt for a stables manager who the court says owes money, but can the sheriffs track them down?