News : Private wheelclamping to be made illegal

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Wheel clamping without lawful authority will be banned in England and Wales from 1 October 2012, with anyone breaking the law facing criminal charges and a fine.

Ban on wheel clamping without lawful authority. Once the ban comes into force on 1 October 2012, it will be illegal to clamp, tow away or immobilise a vehicle without lawful authority to do so. Anyone who breaks the law will face criminal charges and a fine if convicted.

In effect, this will ban most clamping and towing by anyone other than the police, local authorities, government agencies such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) – plus other bodies acting in accordance with statutory or other powers, such as railway stations and airports.

Bodies with lawful authority to clamp and tow may continue to contract out this work to private companies. DVLA and VOSA will continue to clamp or tow vehicles which are un-roadworthy or have not had their vehicle tax paid.

What’s happening prior to October 2012

Currently, the law says that individuals or businesses can clamp vehicles if they have a valid vehicle immobiliser licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). This will apply until the ban comes into force in October 2012.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

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Keith Adams

26 Comments

  1. This is very good news as there has been some real horror stories about the unscruptulous acts of these people. These range from clamping the cars of drivers who are either very ill or in a wheelchair, to charging extortionate fees and demanding money by menaces.

    A lady was convicted of this in Staffordshire approximately three years ago and received a custodial sentence.

    Sadly I don’t think the limited resources available to the police will ever fully recover the true extent of the financial gains of these people.

  2. Good news! However, it’s going to be rather odd until 2012. Effectively, private clampers are now being given a period of grace in which to comit an illegal act.

  3. My friend got clamped about 20 years ago now in an old (even then) 2.8 GL Granada. He just got in and drove off. The clamp didn’t survive. We were crying with laughter.

    I got “fined” last year for over staying a 2 hour free period in an ASDA car park. I just ignored the letters and now they’ve stopped. Threat of court action never materialised.

  4. I remember Watchdog doing a feature about them a few years ago.

    There were a few cases of people being clamped while sitting in their cars, at least one with the engine still on.

  5. @6 – the supermarket car park management companies are unable to enforce the fines they dish out – they simply prey on people’s fears of being prosecuted. Ignore their letters, they are completely meaningless.

  6. About time the DVLA was stopped from giving names and addresses to so called parking enforcement companies as well.

    My guess is that if they want to do more than write a letter they have to go to the County Court which means paying a fee (which is probably somewhere near the value of the so called penalty.) Can someone confirm that they have no other power?

  7. We operate as subcontractors to several local councils, but all we do is affix fixed penalty charge notices. The council themselves actually do the wheel clamping, and at comment 14, you want people to get away with illegal & often dangerous parking?

  8. @13 i think people should be considerate in how they park and leave reasonable access for others,i have seen some traffic wardens blatantly start to ticket a car when the driver was going to the ticket machine,one in particular was a wheelchair user which is disgraceful,and i may add this must be a minority whom act this way,in general i havn’t had anything worse than “can you not park there chief”.The only other thing i find reprehensible is pay and display at hospitals,morally wrong on many levels.

  9. Sadly Francis, the NHS have no choice but to charge for parking. If they did not, jokers would simply use hospital car parks as ‘park & rides’ for town centres. And anyone who objects to councils and companies getting details from the DVLA, I’m sorry, but that means you want to get away with illegal parking, plain & simple. I’m currently laughing about some cretin who overstayed by nearly half an hour in a pay & display car park, photographic evidence from both a patrol officer & CCTV footage were sent to this person, who claims he has done nothing wrong, and is taking it to court, where he will lose, and it will end up costing him a minimum of £500 with all the legal fees, instead of shutting up and paying the £20 fixed penalty

  10. Sadly Francis, the NHS have no choice but to charge for parking. If they did not, jokers would simply use hospital car parks as ‘park & rides’ for town centres. And anyone who objects to councils and companies getting details from the DVLA, I’m sorry, but that means you want to get away with illegal parking, plain & simple. I’m currently laughing about some cretin who overstayed by nearly half an hour in a pay & display car park, photographic evidence from both a patrol officer & CCTV footage were sent to this person, who claims he has done nothing wrong, and is taking it to court, where he will lose, and it will end up costing him a minimum of £500 with all the legal fees, instead of shutting up and paying the £20 fixed penalty

  11. @13 why clamp someone if they are illegally or dangerously parked? It only adds to the problem as the car stays there for even longer.
    An unconnected story: a mate of mine parked in a carpet superstore, went in ordered a carpet, came out and found his car was clamped. The reason given was that he had parked in the carpet superstore and gone to visit another superstore (which he didn’t). The carpet superstore manager came out, said “oh they do this all the time” and took the fine off the carpet bill. Madness. Thank God these idiots are getting banned.

  12. I say keep the clampers, but regulate them better. I actually work in the industry, and sadly it is currently more or less self regulated.

    If you clamp some complete and utter prat who clearly thinks they don’t have to abide by the rules, they deserve everything they get. A nice, juicy fine, plus their car removed & impounded. It might actually teach them not to be inconsiderate numpties in the future.

    This ruling will only stop a very, very small number of clampers, such as that arsewipe in Haworth who gave decent companies a bad name. We actually give up to 5 mins grace for P&D car parks, before issuing a FPN, which is rare with many companies, as some are known to be ‘trigger happy’ when it comes to issuing tickets. I can see this leading to more car parks going on to ‘token release’ instead of pay & display, and car parking charges doubling.

    And at RoverT, if the ‘person involved’ actually contacted the ticket issuer, with a copy of the carpet receipt, the ticket would have been quashed anyway. It happened to me in Wakefield. I had to get some cash from a nearby ATM, parked in the free car park there, came back about 2 mins later, with a ticket on the screen, went into PC World, bought what I needed & phoned the company. I e-mailed them a copy of the receipt, and received an e-mail saying the ticket was cancelled, and a few days later, a letter from the company apologising.

  13. The solution to clampers is Hydraulic citroens, drop them to the floor as you park and there is no way to get a clamp on, you can’t get a jack under them when at their lowest, and even if you could the wheel does not drop down, it stays up in the arch!. It’s also worth remebering that a ticket has to be applied to the car to be issued, so if you find one being written out when you return to the car, don’t stop and argue, just drive off.

  14. My point about the DVLA is that access to its database should be restricted to the Police and perhaps local authorities who we hope should use it responsibly. Allowing all and sundry access allows the cowboys in – and to be honest I can’t see why anyone besides the Police and perhaps local authorities should be able to penalise anyone.

    If someone has private land they wish to let out as a car park – provide a proper system (guy in hut or something)- otherwise – tough.

    Allowing Local Authorities access to anything concerns me as well when we find they use terrorist legislation to enforce school catchment areas.

  15. I understand why hospitals need to charge for car parking, but with pay and display you need to know how long you’re going to be somewhere. For shopping, this is no more than a minor irritation, but hospitals? They’re not places anyone goes to out of choice and it’s difficult enough to know how long you’ll be there for an appointment, but child birth or the terminally ill? What are you supposed to do? “Push harder, dear” or “hurry up and die, the parking’s about to run out”.

  16. I agree that regulation needs to be much tighter. People will always take the *whotsit* when parking -they always have done and they always will do, so I can understand why clampers came into existance in the fist place. Its the stupid ones that have ruined it for them all alas, because everyone gets tarred with the same brush (eg: all young drivers are reckless , all old drivers are ditherers syndrome) that a complete ban will now come into play. This will only increase the amount of illegal and inconsiderate parking though…watch this space!

  17. It will mean that every car park will go on to be token on arrival, paystation, and automatic barriers, and the parking costs to treble. More car parks will end up being sold to firms like NCP. To be honest, if you have private land, it disgusts me that you aren’t going to be allowed to clamp some duckhead who parks on there without permission.

    As they are banning clamping, they need to put something in its place, such as making illegal parking a 3 point offence, with a £150 fixed penalty, or better still, if some clown parks and causes an obstruction, make it totally legal to ram their car out of the way, then claim off their insurance to the damage to your car, simply because in many towns & cities, gridlock happens because one windowlicker parks where they shouldn’t do

  18. @24 one will be replaced with the other,private(normally bad bastards behind it)will be replaced by dogmatic council contractors,whom will more readily have a car clamped.

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