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Motorists need to look out for private parking firms

Motorists need to be on the look out for private parking firms who, it’s been revealed, pay over £6m to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) each year to get hold of drivers’ personal details. When parking on private land, such as shopping centres and motorway service stations, private reg drivers need to take more care that they’re not clamped and face resulting penalties.

In new figures, it’s been suggested that there’s been a 28 per cent increase in the number of personal detail requests from the DVLA by private parking firms. For each request, the DVLA charges £2.50, so with estimated sums in the millions, it shows just how many drivers are being penalised for parking in the wrong place or outstaying their welcome. Whilst clamping cars in areas such as college car parks and motorway services areas was banned across England and Wales in 2012, many motoring organisations say that parking firms now conduct “mass ticketing”. Then, CCTV cameras are utilised to obtain driver details from the DVLA so that fine notices can be sent out.

The first time that many drivers learn of their ticket is when a penalty notice of up to £100 lands through their door. Unlike police parking tickets, which are backed by criminal sanctions, fines can be appealed via the Parking on Private Land Appeals system. For those who don’t pay, debt collection agencies are often hired by parking firms to collect monies owed. In the latest figures, it was shown that the DVLA had 1,897,572 requests in the year 2012/13 and this rose to 2,430,130 last year. The amount of money paid to the DVLA via charges also increased dramatically, rising from £4,743,930 to £6,075,325. In recent numbers, it was estimated that the DVLA actually made a profit of £10.3m.

Addressing the latest figures, a spokeswoman from the DVLA explained that the organisation are extremely careful to protect driving data and treat it responsibly. “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, she said, adding, “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. We do not aim to make a profit on this service - the fee merely covers the cost of processing the applications.”

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