British motorists are being issued with more than 22,000 tickets every day by private parking firms, according to analysis of government data. The study by the PA news agency and the RAC Foundation revealed four million tickets were issued between April and September 2021 – the equivalent of 15 a minute.

Those figures came despite car use being down by more than a quarter compared with pre-pandemic levels in the early part of that six-month period. And if that rate continues, the RAC Foundation estimates the total for the financial year will come close to the 8.4 million record set in 2019/20.

These conclusions were drawn from government data that shows how many times private parking companies obtained records from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to chase car owners for alleged infringements in private car parks. These include car parks at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway services.

Woman using pay and display parking ticket machine

In total, the data shows some 163 firms requested car owner records between April and September, with the biggest buyer, ParkingEye, obtaining almost 900,000 of the four-million total. Each record costs a private parking firm £2.50, but each resultant ticket can cost drivers up to £100.

The news comes as new measures aimed at preventing drivers being mistreated by parking companies await ministerial approval. These measures include a government-sanctioned code of practice, a single appeals service, and a system of charges and penalties more closely aligned with those charged by councils.

“If there is one sector of the economy which has been resilient during Covid then it is the private parking industry, which continues to attract new players and is on course to issue as many tickets to drivers this year as it did before the pandemic reached these shores,” said Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation. “The sheer volume of tickets being issued is a clear sign that something in the current system isn’t working.

“We believe there are very few drivers who set out to intentionally break the rules and consequently get stuck with a bill for up to £100, particularly if all they were doing was dropping off some of the myriad parcel deliveries we’ve been ordering this year to an apartment block or industrial estate. Our advice to drivers is never ignore a parking charge notice. Read it carefully and, however strongly it’s worded, if it’s wrong, challenge it.”

Cars parked in a parking lot