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DVLA sees 28% increase in spending from private parking firms

Most drivers will have received the letter at some point; the unwelcome image of their car parked ‘illegally’ with an accompanying penalty notice for up to £100. What most drivers may not be aware of, though, is that their personal information has been passed on to a private parking firm for this very purpose by the DVLA.

In fact, it was recently revealed that these private parking firms have paid the DVLA in excess of £6million during the last year in order to gain access to drivers’ details, including their names and addresses, with the intention of issuing fines. Recent figures note that requests for information have leapt from just under two million in 2012/13, to nearly two and a half million for the period of 2013/14, with the amount paid by private firms rising to just over £6million, compared to just under £5million the previous year.

This increase, of approximately 28%, is thought to have been caused by an upsurge in the number of tickets issued to drivers parked on private land, including shopping centres, service stations, hospitals, and college and university campuses. Rather than clamping vehicles, which became illegal in England and Wales in 2012, private parking firms now utilise CCTV footage to capture a vehicle’s number plate, including personalised number plates, before obtaining the driver’s details from the DVLA.

The DVLA charges just £2.50 per request, and many consumer groups are concerned by this growing trend in information trading. While these penalties are not backed by criminal sanctions, and are therefore not enforceable, many private parking firms can, and will, employ debt collection agencies to pursue those who ignore their fine.

The BBC quotes a DVLA spokeswoman as saying, We take our responsibility to protect information seriously. That is why information is only provided under strict controls to parking firms who meet the standards set by an appropriate Accredited Trade Association and are compliant with its Code of Practice. If it is brought to our attention that a company does not meet the necessary standards, we will investigate. If the allegations are proven we will stop the release of keeper information to them.”

The DVLA also denies that it profits from any arrangements with private parking firms, stating that any monies exchanged for information is used to cover the cost of processing each application. It costs £2.84 to process a request for information, and the organisation vehemently denies any financial interest in private parking firms having access to drivers’ data.

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