Surge in number of parking fines issued by private firms

The number of people handed parking fines by private companies has climbed by more than a quarter in the past year, figures show.

Parking management firms accessed DVLA vehicle keeper records from 4.71 million people in 2016/2017, according to analysis of official data by the RAC Foundation.

Compared to the previous year the number of records accessed is up 28%.

In the majority of cases the information will have been used to send penalty charges, worth up to £100, to drivers who the companies say infringed parking rules.

The data suggests a parking ticket is issued every seven seconds in Britain.

Clamping on private land was banned in 2012 unless in exceptional circumstances.

But the Protection of Freedoms Act allowed private parking companies to pursue the registered keeper of vehicles they claim have broken their rules.

The companies do not have to prove who the driver was when the incident occurred.

In 2012/13 only 1.89 million records were obtained by private companies from the DVLA, meaning the number of records accessed has more than doubled since the Act was introduced.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding called the numbers "eye watering" and said the surge in ticketing showed "something is clearly going awry".

"Of course the rights of private landowners need to be protected, but where landowners invite people to park on their property, often to benefit from their trade, the rules need to be fair to both parties," he said.

"Time and again we hear stories of people who feel that the terms were unclear, the tone of communication intimidating and the price of even the shortest accidental overstay extortionate."

A consultation on changes to regulations for parking on private land was launched by the coalition government and concluded in May 2015.

Mr Gooding criticised ministers who he said have had the results of the consultation on their desks for two years.

"It is high time that politicians - thinking of their election prospects - and landowners alike woke up to the calls for a better, fairer, properly regulated approach," he said.

In response, a Government spokesman said: "We're committed to reforming unfair parking practices and have already taken steps to tackle rogue private parking operators, including the banning of wheel clamping and towing."

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