Private parking firms issued a record number of tickets during the 2017/18 financial year, according to new figures.
Analysis of government statistics by the RAC Foundation discovered that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) had released more than 5.6 million vehicle keeper details to private firms - an increase of almost one million on 2016/17’s figures.
The RAC Foundation says almost all of these records will have been used to pursue a motorist deemed to have contravened parking regulations on private land.
In contrast, the RAC Foundation says just under 500,000 records were released during the 2007/8 financial year.
The parking company that issued the most requests for details was ParkingEye, which asked for almost 1.77 million records (up from 1.53 million in 2016/17), while Euro Car Parks was a distant second with more than 406,000 requests.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘Each year we publish this analysis and each year we are not only astonished by the numbers involved, but also by the fact that those numbers keep rocketing up.’
Gooding also said the DVLA figures only paint part of the picture, because many parking firms will ‘slap a demand onto a windscreen’ for the driver to discover when they return.
Private parking companies have been in the spotlight for many years now, with the government banning clamping on private land in 2012. The DVLA requires companies to have membership of a regulating authority before it will release data.
However, Gooding said more regulation was required, after suggesting that drivers may not be flouting the rules as regularly as the DVLA data would have us believe.
‘Pursuing so many people must be a major administrative task for the companies involved,’ he said. ‘But the questions the numbers really beg are what’s going wrong, and are Britain’s motorists really flouting the rules on such an industrial scale?
‘We strongly support Sir Greg Knight in his initiative to get some regulation in place through a private member’s bill that will establish much-needed independent scrutiny of what’s going on in the private parking world. Only then can we be reassured that the cards aren’t stacked against the motorist.’
A ParkingEye spokesperson said: 'ParkingEye continues to be a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) and follows its strict code of practice in all the car parks we manage on behalf of our clients. We welcome any additional government legislation that aims to drive consistency and improve processes across the entire private parking sector.'