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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Customer contact and data security: safety: your responsibility

Personal safety is of paramount importance and you must always

  • exercise care and forethought
  • avoid placing yourself at risk when out on call
  • use the safety aids that have been provided.

Comprehensive guidance about safeguarding yourself is already set out and is available on the Intranet. In practice, the following simple safeguards should suffice in the majority of instances.

You should always follow the rules regarding contact with the office, see DMBM511350.

Before going out on call

When you are required to make a personal call to a customer as part of your work you and if necessary your manager must perform a risk assessment or Recovery Proceedings (RP) check before the call is made.

The risk assessment/RP check should include

  • examining available records (for example, SA Notes, IDMS Action History and Taxpayer Notes and Assets, DTR) to find out if the customer has a history of abusive or violent behaviour or anything else that may compromise your safety whilst visiting them.
  • using all available information regarding the locations to be visited to determine their safeness and so on. For example, the risk assessment process will take into account reports in the local press that there has been an outbreak of a particular disease (foot and mouth, avian flu and so on) in your area. In such cases you would almost certainly not make the call and suspend all other calls in the ‘at risk’ area.
  • considering other factors such as whether the customer’s address is in a known problem area.
  • remembering that people are individuals and may be affected differently by the same circumstances.

Where your manager is not available for discussion at the time of the assessment you should continue with the risk assessment process and discussion of any potential ‘problem’ calls should take place with another officer in a management grade. You are not expected to make any calls which could put your safety at risk.

Most of the time calls are normally made be made by individual officers but visiting in pairs will be considered where

  • the risk assessment indicates that it is necessary
  • it is appropriate

    • for training purposes to provide translation skills
    • where a large cash payment is expected.

In some instances it may be considered necessary to use

  • a different enforcement method.

You are responsible for recording any type of threats or abuse both verbally and physically. This is for both your own benefit and that of your colleagues.