Private parking firms are expected to buy as many as six million vehicle keeper records from the DVLA during the 2017-18 financial year as they continue to issue tickets at an ‘unprecedented rate'.

The DVLA sold more than 1.4 million of the records, which are used to pursue drivers for penalties of up to £100, in the second quarter of this financial year, and the RAC expects the third quarter to be a ‘bumper period’ as Christmas shoppers rush to the stores.

The RAC estimates that by April 2018, the total number will be ‘at least’ 5.6 million and ‘could easily be more than six million’.

If that number is achieved, it will represent a 21.5 percent increase on the 2016-17 financial year, which saw 4.71 million records sold, and a 12-fold increase on 2007-8, when just under half a million records were sold.

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Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘Private parking firms are already issuing tickets at an unprecedented rate and, if history is anything to go by, they will be breaking yet more records in the weeks ahead.

‘Drivers should be very wary of overstaying their welcome in private car parks by even a matter of moments, and they should not give these firms any other reason to come after them with demands for eye-watering sums that will spoil their Christmas.

‘Private parking companies do not allow a grace period at the end of your parking time – even at Christmas.’

However, Gooding reassured drivers that the government was looking into the practices of private parking firms and could soon be introducing new laws.

‘Early in the new year, the House of Commons is expected to debate Sir Greg Knight’s private members’ bill, which aims to rein in the worst excesses of parking firms and set a fairer balance between the rights of drivers and the rights of landowners,’ he said.