Private parking firms issuing 30,000 fines each day - as number jumps 50% in a year

Private parking firms are issuing 50% more fines this year with an average of nearly 30,000 per day being dished out, analysis suggests.

A record 2.7 million were issued between April and June, up from 1.8 million during the same period last year.

The figures come from analysis of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data carried out by the PA news agency.

Private parking companies have been accused of aggressively chasing debts and unreasonable fees, as well as the use of confusing and misleading signs.

A long-awaited government code of practice designed to "clean-up" the industry was withdrawn in July after a legal challenge by parking firms.

Some 176 parking firms asked the DVLA for vehicle owner records between between April and June as they tried to find out who to send their fines to.

The most prolific was ParkingEye, which purchased 521,000 records, paying £2.50 each time. The DVLA says it does not make a profit as the money only covers the cost of processing the request.

The growth in the number of fines issued is even more apparent when looking further back.

In 2017, only 1.3 million records were requested from April to June, under half this year's amount.

It is "inconceivable" that so many motorists are intentionally flouting parking rules, the RAC Foundation said.

The organisation's director, Steve Gooding, said the sector was "booming" with "more entrants all the time".

"The attraction can only be one thing - the chance to make significant profits before the government brings in changes - which now appear delayed - to level the playing field," he said.

"It remains inconceivable that, annually, millions of motorists are setting out to run up these tickets of up to £100 each, especially when household budgets are so tight. This latest data is a sign of a system that is broken."

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said companies appeared to be issuing "as many notices as possible" before the code is implemented.

It was due to come into force by the end of next year and reduce the cap for some parking offences from £100 to £50.

However, it was withdrawn pending a review of charges and a new target date is unclear.

Lisa Webb, from consumer organisation Which?, suggested people being fined by companies not accredited by a trade body "may want to ignore them".

She said they are not allowed to access the DVLA database so are "usually unable to pursue you for payment".

A government spokeswoman admitted there are "a small number of cowboy companies" in the sector and that the code of practice would be introduced "as soon as possible".