Sheriff officers answer the call to create 30 jobs

Thirty skilled jobs are being created at a new call centre in the Borders, writes Sandy Neil.

Scott & Co, a firm of sheriff officers and messengers-at-arms which specialises in debt recovery and warrant enforcement across Scotland, announced the opening of the new customer response centre in Galashiels this week.

The company is employed by Scottish Borders Council to chase unpaid council tax arrears, and has maintained an operational centre in Galashiels for the last 20 years, servicing the whole Borders area.

The opening of Scott & Co’s third call centre is a response to increased customer demand, a spokesperson explained.

Sixteen staff have already been appointed, and are currently undergoing their initial six-week induction programme. Interviews are also continuing this week at Scott & Co’s office at 50/52 High Street, Galashiels.

“This is a genuine additional resource, and brings our current capacity over the three centres to 90 seats,” said Joy McLaughlin, the Scott & Co partner responsible for business operations. Although we operate in a virtual contact centre environment as part of our integrated service platform, the Galashiels centre will have a particular focus on our public sector contracts and the delivery of innovative communication strategies.

“We have been delighted with the response locally to our commitment and local investment in the area.”

“Refurbishment work, infrastructure deployment and the recruitment process are complete, and the first new employees were scheduled to commence their initial three-week induction programme in mid-August,” a spokesperson said. “Given the often complex legal issues involved in Scott & Co’s work, these will be highly-skilled posts, with an initial emphasis on training.”

Sarah Kemp, Scott & Co’s compliance and development manager, added: “The training of the contact centre staff is vitally important, and is of necessity technical and all-encompassing. It is not simply a matter of developing database and call centre technology skills.”

She explained: “The internal and external training programmes include empathetic skills development, an understanding of council tax and NDR legislation and the summary warrant process, an understanding of the statutory regulations that govern our business operations and the necessary compliance procedures, how to deal with vulnerable individuals, and our policies on treating customers fairly.”

The announcement was welcomed by local politicians. Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said: “This area has built a strong reputation for call centre work over the last few years. I’m delighted that Scott & Co are bringing more jobs in this sector and that the jobs are highly skilled.

“As an ex-solicitor I know the work of sheriff officers well, and can vouch for the high level of skills required. It’s easy to say that our people are our best assets. But in this instance it is absolutely true. This is a clear example of a national company choosing our area because our people have the capacities and qualities that will add value to their activities.’

Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, added: “Investment like this is vital for the Borders. Any new jobs are welcome, of course, but high-quality jobs that come with an extra investment in specialist training are particularly valuable for an area which has seen its historic industries with their traditional skills lost and dispersed. We need to build new skills that are in demand now and in the future.”

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