Enforcement of Parking Restrictions on Private Land
Update: May 2009
Following the completion of the Security Industry Authority (SIA)s
study into the regulation of vehicle immobilisation companies in England & Wales, the
Government has announced a full public consultation on new proposals (http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/press-releases/consultation-wheel-clamping)
. The proposals include a compulsory licensing
scheme to tackle the abuses of those companies clamping on private land that have been
documented on this website and elsewhere, and include
including size and visibility
penalties charged and payment methods
minimum time between immobilisation and removal
evidence that a parking infringement has taken place
and location of pound where vehicles are impounded
and appeals policy.
direct link to a downloadable PDF version of the full consultation document is here: http://tinyurl.com/qv8g2d
The consultation will end on July 23, and comments and
contributions from members of the public are being sought, and details of how to make your
contribution can be found here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/cons-2009-vehicle-immobilisation/
I will, of course be responding to the consultation and will
post this on my website.
Though the proposals will clearly be an improvement, they stop
short of the outlawing of the use of vehicle immobilisation by private parking enforcement
companies, as in Scotland, and my own preferred solution.
It is also disappointing that it has taken so long to produce the
consultation and that even more time must now elapse before we can see any of the changes
you do not have your own internet access or find it difficult to gain access through
public libraries or internet cafes, you can call my constituency office on 0121 486 2808
(on weekdays before 1pm) and my staff will be happy to send you a printed copy of the
response questionnaire by post.
Update: February 2009
As indicated in earlier updates, the Security Industry
Authority (SIA)s study into the regulation of vehicle immobilisation companies in England
& Wales should have been completed by the end of December 2008, and was to include a
definite timetable of actions that the Home Office would move to implement in the shortest
As there has been no sign of the completed study, I contacted the Home Office again.
In a letter to me dated 18 February, the Minister responsible, Vernon Coaker MP,
told me that he expects the study to be completed by early 2009, and undertook
to notify me as soon as there was more news on the project. Depending on any changes
the report recommends, there is likely to be a period of full public consultation.
In view of the ongoing reports of people who have fallen victim to the money-making
behaviour of clamping companies, I am disappointed that the study has not been published
in line with the anticipated timetable and that implementing any recommendations could be
further delayed. I will of course publicise the report on my website as soon as I am
notified of its publication.
Update: July 2008
Birmingham City Councils Trading Standards Department has
successfully prosecuted one of the most notorious operators of car-clamping in the Midlands,
landing the owner of Nationwide Parking Control and National Parking Control with fines
totalling £4,000 and costs to be paid of £860. This was reported in Birminghams
local evening paper, the Evening Mail: click
Nationwide Parking Control is one of the companies that feature
most often in the experiences of my constituents and those non-constituents who have
contacted me, having had their vehicles clamped and had large sums of money demanded of
them by the operators of companies such as these. No doubt £4860 is a small price
for Nationwide Parking Control to pay, given the amounts of money that the company takes
by preying on unsuspecting motorists, but the initiatives taken by Birmingham are
very welcome and are greatly to be commended.
The Governments proposals for reforming the legislation
(for details click here) on the regulation of clamping activity
on private land in England and Wales are due to be published at the conclusion of their
consultation in December, and I hope will eventually result in a much more robust
regulation regime that will end the abuses that companies like Nationwide Parking Control
have been able to get away with, but until then I would strongly recommend that anyone
experiencing similar problems with car clampers should contact their local Trading
Update: June 2008
Since my press release almost two
years ago highlighting a typical case (click here
for more information), and calling for changes in the law, I have heard from many other
people up and down the Country who have fallen victim to the often predatory and
unscrupulous tactics of many companies operating vehicle immobilisation schemes.
The Government is now moving to address the concerns I and other
MPs have raised with them. Sadly, it is not proposed to outlaw clamping as in Scotland,
my favoured approach, because apparently the law there on extortion is different.
Instead there will first be a cross departmental study (involving the Home Office, the
Department for Transport and the DVLA) aimed at scoping and profiling precisely the
vehicle immobilisation sector in England & Wales and identifying the types of
complaints raised by members of the public and the potential loopholes and difficulties in
dealing with them.
Thus far, the Governments favoured approach is a
compulsory registration scheme for companies who operate within the private security
industry, with clamping companies being addressed as a priority. The existing
legislation requires the licensing of individuals who perform designated activities,
including clamping operatives who charge a release fee, but not of the companies that
The study is expected to be completed by the end of December of
this year, to be followed by a definite timetable of actions to be implemented in the
shortest possible timescale. I will be keeping a close eye on developments to try
and ensure that the eventual proposals will be effective in putting a stop to the
legalised extortion practised by many wheel-clampers.
the last website update on this topic (see May 2006 below) , I am pleased to be able to
report that there have been some important changes to the regulations concerning companies
that operate parking enforcement schemes on private land. The changes are aimed at
Protecting vehicle keepers from the misuse of their information;
Ensuring that those people who have good case for doing so can
obtain the data they require;
Balancing the right to privacy of individuals whose data is held
on the vehicle register with the rights of others, such as parking companies, to obtain
Producing a scheme that is right in principle, and works in
are 14 new measures in total. One of the most
important, in my view, is that companies seeking
access to the DVLAs vehicle register now have to be current members of an accredited
trade association, with a clear and enforced code of conduct (see item (5) below. This replaces the DVLAs old voluntary code of
practice. One of the companies implicated in many of the instances of misconduct that
people reported to me, Central Ticketing, has confirmed to me that it has now become a
member of the British Parking Association, a
respected trade body that first published its own code of conduct for Private Parking
Enforcement on private land in 2005, though until now it has had no significance in law. The BPA is
also shortly to become the first and only trade association accredited by the DVLA.
The BPA code can be found by following this URL : http://www.britishparking.co.uk/index.php?path=1,240
is a very welcome development and will prevent companies that continue to operate in the
unscrupulous manner that I have highlighted on this website from getting automatic access
to the DVLA register.
fourteen new measures are summarised below:
There is now new detailed guidance on what is likely to constitute a reasonable
cause for a company or individual to access information from the vehicle register.
The DVLA website http://www.dvla.gov.uk/foi/relinfo.aspx
has the guidance.
2. Clear guidance is now included on the detailed application
forms that must be completed by any person seeking vehicle keeper data from the DVLA
database. The guidance advises clearly that
any person misusing the data may have future requests refused. The behaviour of applicants for approved conditional
access is now taken into account when an application from them is considered, and where
behaviour has not been of a suitably high standard, access is not granted.
new application form requires enquirers to provide evidence that they are the landowner,
or that the landowner has granted them permission to act on their behalf a
statement from the landowner is required.
new application form includes a requirement to provide evidence that adequate penalty
schemes/signage etc, are clearly displayed.
5. Those bodies and companies seeking approved
conditional access to the vehicle register are required to be current members of an
accredited trade association. Part of the
process of determining accreditation of these organisations includes ensuring that there
is a clear and enforced code of conduct (for example relating to conduct, parking charge
signage, charge levels, appeals procedure, approval of ticket wording, and appropriate
pursuit of penalties e.g, approach by letter only, with county court action
necessary to permit a house call).
6. Any organisation that does not comply with the
terms of the accredited trade association will be expelled, and without valid membership
of another accredited trade association, will lose approved conditional access to the DVLA
vehicle register. This forms part of the process and conditions of accreditation. Loss of accreditation by a previously accredited
Trade Association will result in that Associations members losing their access to
of those seeking approved conditional access will be required to serve a probationary
period of six months or, if longer, the period of time it takes to lodge 20 requests to
the vehicle register, during which time all requests must be made on a case by case basis.
8. It is now required that all organisations that
receive data from the register, as evidence of their reasonable behaviour ,
and as a condition of access to the register, must include in any correspondence with a
vehicle keeper a leaflet or statement advising them of :
- The reasonable cause that formed the basis of the
- The complaints procedure by which a data subject can notify both
the DVLA and the Information Commissioner if they believe that their data have been used
- The appeals procedure (of the regulatory body) if they feel
that, for example, a parking charge notice has been issued incorrectly;
- and that this information should be placed on the DVLA
DVLA must maintain on its website (http://www.dvla.gov.uk)
a list of organisations and companies who have requested data, and the reasons for their
10. A reference to location on the DVLA website of
guidance and advice and all other data related to the release of vehicle keeper data is to
be included on all DVLA documentation sent to the vehicle keeper, including the annual VED
There is now a rolling 3 year programme of audit checks, including targeted checks on
those companies and organisations where concerns have been raised.
12. An audit will be triggered by complaints of
substance representing a disproportionate level of granted access requests, or any
complaint of a serious nature.
following implementation of the audit recommendations, a disproportionate level of
complaints of substance are received, an organisation with approved conditional access
will be required to submit requests on a case by case basis. If it is already subject to request on a case by
case basis, it will be subject to additional scrutiny of each request it makes. If a disproportionate level of further complaints
of substance is received and a company is found consistently to be using data
inappropriately, or a serious complaint of abuse of the system by the applicant is
substantiated, then there is a real possibility that the applicant would not be deemed to
have reasonable cause for future requests for data release, which would consequently be
clear procedure is in place by which data subjects can notify DVLA if they feel that their
data has been used inappropriately. The DVLA
now draws the attention of vehicle keepers to this procedure by including information in
paperwork sent to them and on the DVLA website. This includes information on how they can
notify the Information Commissioner of the mis-use of their data.
Complaints received about a company will form part of a the evaluation of whether its
application to access data from the vehicle register validly includes a reasonable
article below first appeared on my web pages in June 2005, I have had literally dozens of
responses from people in many parts of England who have experienced unfair treatment by
companies operating Private Parking Enforcement schemes. I regret that I am not able to
respond individually to the large numbers of people who are contacting me by email. I
would still like to hear about what has happened to you, but regrettably unless you
are a constituent of mine living in the Birmingham Selly Oak Parliamentary
Constituency I cannot respond personally to help deal with individual cases.
Instead, if you have experienced problems with Central Ticketing or a similar operator,
please ask your own Member of Parliament to take up the issue on your behalf. Find
out who is your MP by typing your postcode into this website: http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/ .
your MP, I am making available as a proforma on this website the letter I sent to Central
Ticketing on behalf of my own constituent last summer, which successfully obtained a
refund of the fine which Central ticketing had incorrectly levied on him. I hope that you
will find it useful.
may also be interested in my press release on this issue, posted in August 2006. Click here to read it.
Mr. Jason Lee,
Central Ticketing Limited
66-68 Hagley Road,
13th July 2005
Dear Mr Lee,
I refer to my earlier letter to you of June 6th, 2005 on behalf
of my constituent Mr. XXXX, to which I have as yet had no reply, and in which I asked you
whether in your view your company had handled Mr. XXXXs case fairly and properly.
You will recall that Mr. XXXX had stopped his car for approximately three minutes at
The Ashley Pub Permit Holders car park, Rowley Regis, at 09.50 on 8 March 2005. Mr
XXXX had made the stop on his way to Rowley Regis Crematorium in order to check his road
atlas as he was running late for the funeral service he was due to conduct there. He
did not park his car, no-one alighted from the car, and his engine was kept running for
the duration of the stop.
Mr XXXX received no notification whatsoever that he had
infringed parking regulations in force at the Ashley Pub controlled by your Company.
The first he knew of these regulations was when he received a letter from Central
Ticketing dated 22nd April demanding payment of an initial penalty charge of £50,
escalated according to that letter to £85. Mr XXXX responded to this letter,
querying the charge, and requesting a copy of the original parking charge that your
company is obliged to issue since you have signed up to the DVLAs Voluntary Code of
Practice for Private Car Parking Enforcement. Though sent by recorded delivery, Mr.
XXXX received no reply to this letter, but instead received a demand for a sum now
escalated to £135, from a firm of debt recovery agents called Phillips. Under such
duress Mr. XXXX paid the amount of £135 on 26 May 2005.
I have now investigated the regulations pertaining to the
enforcement of parking restrictions on private land, and find your practice in this
instance to be in direct breach of the DVLAs Voluntary Code of Practice, to which I
understand your firm is obliged to sign up to receive registration information.
Specifically, point 3.2 of the code states:
Notices giving full details of the parking contravention
and the proposed course of action to be taken by the enforcer should be placed in a
prominent position on the offending vehicle without causing it damage.
Vehicle keepers should be made aware that their name and address will be requested
from the DVLA.
It is clear to me that Mr XXXX was provided with no such notice,
even when having requested it on receiving your initial demand, and that he was not made
aware that his name and address would be being requested by you from the DVLA, as clearly
you had already done so in order to write your first letter contacting Mr. XXXX on April
22nd. As such, Central Ticketing is in breach of the Code of Practice on two counts. I
would also recommend that you review the visibility of your signage on-site, as required
by point 3.1 of the voluntary code, as Mr. XXXX has no recollection of any such prominent
In my letter of 6th June, I questioned whether you thought that
the treatment Mr XXXX received from Central Ticketing was appropriate. I hope you will now
agree that not only was it inappropriate, but in breach of the Voluntary Code of Practice.
I am sure that your Company would have due regard for its reputation for operating both
ethically and within regulation. As such I would suggest to you that a full refund to
Mr.XXXX of the £135 he has had to pay, coupled with an apology, would be appropriate in
Your failure to respond appropriately to this letter within the
next 12 working days will result in my reporting your Company to DVLA for your failure to
comply with the Code of Practice.
I look forward to hearing from you.
LYNNE JONES MP
I was first notified of this issue and posted the information here on my website (see below) I have been contacted by people from up and down the country
from Cornwall to Manchester who have experienced similar problems with
private parking enforcement companies operating in breach of the code of conduct. A
man who contacted me from Stockport was able to obtain a full refund of a fine incorrectly
levied by Central Ticketing after following my advice. After raising the issue with
the DVLA, I have also contacted the Minister for Transport, Dr. Stephen Ladyman, and a
review into the regulations governing the release of DVLA driver information to private
parking enforcement companies is now being undertaken. I have expressed my concerns to the
minister at the way these companies routinely breach the provisions of the voluntary code
of practice in order to maximize their income through the issuing of penalty charge
notices and the levying of fines, and have suggested that the code of conduct needs to be
enforceable and compulsory, not voluntary, and allow for the possibility of sanction
against companies who operate in breach of its provisions. Hopefully, the review will
result in the necessary tightening up of the regulations.
I have recently dealt with a case which has highlighted a
problem that may affect many others. I helped a constituent from Kings Norton
to get his money back after he had been wrongly charged £135 by a firm operating parking
enforcement schemes on private land.
Central Ticketing is a Birmingham-based company that issues
tickets to motorists who park in breach of parking regulations in force on private land,
and collect penalty charges from them after tracing the motorists names and
addresses via their vehicle registration plate at the DVLA in Swansea. They are
employed by landlords and others who need to make sure that their sometimes limited
parking facilities are properly used. Because they are not car clampers, firms like
Central Ticketing are not covered by recent legislation designed to regulate the
activities of those firms that immobilise vehicles with clamps, but instead have to sign
up to a voluntary code of practice regulated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority
in order to operate. They must agree to follow this code of conduct in order to be able to
obtain a drivers details from the registration number of his or her vehicle and
collect the penalty charges which are the basis of their income.
An extract from the DVLA voluntary code (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/vehicles/codeprac.htm)
Notices giving full details of the parking contravention
and the proposed course of action to be taken by the enforcer should be placed in a
prominent position on the offending vehicle without causing it damage.
Vehicle keepers should be made aware that their name and address will be requested from
In the case I recently dealt with, no ticket was issued to the
motorist, who had made only the briefest possible of stops to check his road map on the
way to a funeral for which he was running late he didnt even switch off his
engine or get out of the car, but he received a demand shortly afterwards for payment of a
penalty charge he, until then, had had no inkling he had ever incurred. He
wasnt even issued with the ticket when he asked the company for it in a letter sent
by recorded delivery, but was asked to pay a penalty charge of £50, shortly afterwards
escalated to £80, and finally £135. Central Ticketing also did not tell him that
they would be requesting his details from the DVLA, as required by the code.
As the company had clearly operated in breach of the voluntary
code, I was able successfully to get them to refund the motorists £135 (which he
had paid in fear of having the bailiffs sent round).
I am very concerned that companies may be operating with such
apparent disregard for the DVLAs code of practice simply in order to maximise their
income, and I have reported Central Ticketing to the DVLA. I will also be pressing
for the regulations around companies operating private parking enforcement schemes to be
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