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Drivers hit with record 5.6 million parking tickets last year

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Private car park management firms could be raking in as much as £565m a year as it’s revealed the number of tickets issued to drivers surged to 5.65 million in the 2017/18 tax year.

In fact, the number has rocketed by a million in just a year, up from 4.71 million in 2016/17, according to the RAC Foundation’s analysis of DVLA data.

It found that 5.65 million sets of vehicle keeper records were released to car parking management companies, used to pursue drivers deemed to have infringed regulations in private car parks.

The numbers have grown over the past decade, from 272,000 in 2006/07 to the new record in the last financial tax year:

  • 2017/18 – 5.65 million
  • 2016/17 – 4.71 million
  • 2015/16 – 3.67 million
  • 2014/15 – 3.06 million
  • 2013/14 – 2.43 million
  • 2012/13 – 1.89 million
  • 2011/12 – 1.57 million
  • 2010/11 – 1.17 million
  • 2009/10 – 1.03 million
  • 2008/09 – 687,000
  • 2007/08 – 499,000
  • 2006/07 – 272,000
  • TOTAL – 26.64 million

The RAC said penalty tickets can cost as much as £100 which suggests the private parking firms could be demanding more than half a billion pounds (£565m) from drivers.

It estimates penalty notices are issued every six seconds, the equivalent of 11 per minute, 645 per hour and 15,486 per day.

In 2017/18, a total of 119 parking companies received data from the DVLA, ten more than in the previous financial year.

The top five purchasers of data in 2017/18 were:

  1. ParkingEye Ltd – 1,768,233 records (1,530,259 in 2016/17)
  2. Euro Car Parks – 406,323 records (306,857)
  3. Smart Parking Ltd – 390,860 records (329,157)
  4. Athena ANPR Ltd – 318,486 records (246,743)
  5. Ranger Services Ltd for Highview Parking Ltd – 274,591 records (271,917).

Contraventions on private land

Drivers should note that private parking tickets aren’t fines; they’re invoices. This means they don’t carry the same legal enforcement powers as council or police charges, though firms may try to pressure you by suggesting they can fine you. They can’t send bailiffs in, but they can increase their charges and register a debt against you.

Clamping on private land was banned (in all but exceptional circumstances) in 2012 by the Protection of Freedoms Act. The Act also allowed for private parking companies to pursue the registered keepers of vehicles rather than having to prove who the driver was at the time of the ‘offence’.

Private parking firms wanting to access the vehicle keeper data held by the DVLA need to be members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and abide by its code of practice. There are currently two ATAs: the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community. Both have an independent appeals service. See’s How to fight private parking charges for more information.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The true volume of tickets being issued might actually be significantly higher still as some firms will simply slap a demand onto a windscreen for the driver to find when they return to their vehicle.

“Pursuing so many people must be a major administrative task for the companies involved, but the questions the numbers really beg are: what’s going wrong? 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.”

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