Private parking companies issued 12,000 tickets a day last year despite coronavirus lockdowns, official figures suggest. The data uncovered by the RAC Foundation suggests around 4.4 million tickets were doled out to motorists in the UK during the 2020/21 financial year.

Parking companies have to request driver data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) before issuing a ticket, and the RAC Foundation has studied the number of requests made to the government body. Although the data does not show how many tickets were paid or challenged, it is an indicator of how many tickets are issued.

The 4.4 million requests made in 2020/21 was, unsurprisingly, a huge reduction compared with the previous year, but it’s still an enormous amount for a nation that spent much of the period in lockdown. With coronavirus restrictions in place, traffic volumes fell dramatically, with the RAC Foundation claiming traffic on UK roads was cut to 22 percent of pre-pandemic levels at times.

Woman using pay and display parking ticket machine

Even so, the number of tickets issued by private parking firms fell by less than half, down from 8.4 million in the 2019/20 financial year. The average of 12,000 tickets a day is eye-watering, especially when tickets can cost drivers as much as £100.

In total, some 151 firms requested driver data in the 2020/21 financial year, with one company alone requesting almost a million records. The DVLA charges companies £2.50 per record, although the agency says its charges cover the costs of providing information and no profit is made.

UK parking ticket on windscreen

The news comes two years after the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill, introduced by Sir Greg Knight MP, became law in March 2019. That law was designed to crack down on rogue parking firms with a new code of practice that would bring them into line.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it expected the code of conduct to be complete before the summer of 2021, with a service supplier appointed by the end of the year. Once the service supplier is appointed, parking operators will be forced to follow the code of practice.

“With the country and the economy in various states of lockdown, we’d have expected to see the number of keeper details being sought by the private parking sector falling quite dramatically,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. “But what we have to realise is that the much-reduced number still amounts to 12,000 per day – which seems extraordinary when most of us have been following orders to stay at home and cut travel.

“Even if many of the parking charge notices issued are subsequently dropped when they are challenged, some people won’t believe that challenge is a reasonable option and so they pay up rather than face the hassle. That can’t be right.”

Rear end of car in parking garage