The number of parking tickets issued by private firms has risen yet again, according to analysis published this week. Data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was investigated by the RAC Foundation, which found the number of fines issued by private parking companies rose by a quarter in just 12 months.
When a private parking firm wishes to issue a fine, it must first ask the DVLA to release the vehicle keeper records for the car that has allegedly contravened its rules. By analysing the number of times companies asked for these details, the RAC Foundation says it can get an idea of the number of fines issued.
And the results for the 2019-20 financial year are little short of shocking. Companies handed out 8.4 million tickets in that 12-month period – the equivalent of one every four seconds. That’s an increase of 24 percent on the 6.8 million tickets issued in the 2018-19 financial year, and more than eight times the number seen in 2009-10.
The DVLA charges companies £2.50 to access the records, but the fines can cost drivers up to £100. That means although companies are spending a combined total of £21 million just to get the data from the DVLA, they could be raking in up to £840 million in charges.
These incredible numbers come despite the arrival of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019, which was introduced in March last year. The act allows a government-sanctioned code of practice to replace the current standards that are drawn up by the industry itself, although the new code has not yet been introduced.
“Anyone who received a private parking ticket last year would have been in plentiful company – yet again the number of keeper addresses released by the DVLA to private parking companies has shot up, this time by almost a quarter,” said Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation. “To put the numbers in context, if every one of the 8.4 million releases came with a ticket to the next Glastonbury festival Michael Eavis would have to re-run the event over 60 times to fit everyone in.”
“The hard graft of creating a new code of practice for the industry is currently under way. This will go out for public consultation before being presented to Parliament. But the code is just one part of the new framework that needs to be put in place, including a single appeals body and independent scrutiny of the private parking trade associations and their members.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the government expected to introduce the new code of practice later this year.
“We are committed to cracking down on the minority of rogue parking operators who exploit motorists,” they said. “That’s why we are working with the British Standards Institution on a code of practice for the industry that is fair to both drivers and operators. We expect to consult on this new code later this year.”