Headlines: February 17th, 2006

Department for Transport plans for a public consultation on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s practice of selling personal details from its register have been welcomed by the RAC foundation. The consultation will seek people’s views on the organisations that should have access to information from the vehicle register, and how their requests will be audited.At the moment details can be sold to any organisation claiming a reasonable cause to access to the details. The Foundation said it had been concerned that the release of information to CCTV car park enforcement operators was allowing cowboy clampers to bypass the Security Industry Authority licensing scheme information.

Edmund King, the Foundation’s executive director said he was pleased to note the commitment of the Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman’s to the privacy and confidentiality of the vehicle register. “Motorists are required by law to provide information to DVLA and they need to be certain that only bona fide organisations with a genuine need to know can obtain their personal details,” he said.

The RAC Foundation had warned the DVLA about abuse of the so-called “reasonable cause” loophole five years ago but at that time it had been told that there was not widespread evidence of abuse.

The Security Industry Authority licensing scheme regulates wheel-clampers working on private land and requires anyone placing a clamp on a vehicle to be trained and licensed but the Foundation has highlighted the fact that new technology allows firms to by-pass this law. They can, it says, set up a digital CCTV system to record vehicles entering and leaving a car park; contact DVLA to obtain the owners’ details and issue a penalty notice by post.