The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sold more than 1.7 million drivers’ details to private parking firms between April and June. This compares to 1.06 million over the same period in 2016.
The vast increase has sparked concerns that, if this trend continues, there will be a 64% increase in fines annually. That would mean a total of 7 million sets of details being shared, compared to the 4.7 million released during the 2016/17 financial year.
The DVLA charges £2.50 per record. That means it made the tidy sum of £4.35 million between April and June. The figure equates to around 19,000 tickets being issued each day, or one parking fine every 4.5 seconds.
The government steps in
The three private parking firms who bought the most records were ParkingEye, which bought 570,000, Smart Parking, at 125,000, and Euro Car Parks, with a total of 118,000 records. By being members of a trade association, such as the British Parking Association or Parking Community, such firms are legally allowed to purchase the driver information that they need in order to issue fines.
The staggering new figures have led to support for the introduction of laws to ensure that private parking firms are regulated in a transparent and consistent way. The aim is to protect drivers from being caught out by firms that aren’t explaining their parking terms clearly enough.
Conservative MP Greg Knight tabled a bill last week proposing a code of conduct for private parking firms. Self-regulation has evidently not worked, with drivers who park on private land facing hugely inconsistent procedures and standards.
Quite often, parking charge notices are issued on dubious grounds, with people not understanding what it is that they did in order to receive one. This adds stress and confusion on top of concern about having to pay the fine.
Do you know your notices?
Drivers can receive two types of parking notice: penalty charge notices, and parking charge notices. These look very similar, but aren’t the same thing.
Both are yellow in colour, affix to the windscreen and carry the same message. However, a penalty charge notice is an official parking fine from the police or council. These are issued for offences such as parking on double yellow lines.
A parking charge notice is an invoice from a private parking firm. These could be given to you in a number of locations, including supermarket and hospital car parks.
To pay or not to pay?
If you find a parking charge notice on your windscreen, and don’t understand why it has been issued, you might not have to pay it.
First, take photographs of where you’re parked, any signs that are around and anything else that is present that you think may make it an unfair charge. This way, you have evidence to support your decision to not pay, should you need it.
If you’ve parked blocking an entrance, or stayed for longer than you were supposed to, you should pay the charge, just as you would if it were a penalty charge notice.
With so much confusion around which charges should be paid and when, it’s not surprising that the number of tickets being given out is rising. The causes of issuing notices are becoming increasingly blurred. As such, it’s certainly possible that some private companies are trying their luck, hoping that drivers will pay the fee without question.
A consistent code of conduct for private parking firms would definitely help to keep everything fair and in order. It would benefit drivers by removing confusing grey areas. As such, PetrolPrices is delighted to see the government finally stepping in to address the matter.
Do you think the government should regulate the conduct of private parking firms? Will this help or will it merely add another layer of bureaucracy to the whole industry? Leave a comment to let us know your views.