Headlines: April 26th, 2006

The Government is being urged to support a code of practice being launched today to deal with unscrupulous and unlicensed car clampers. The code wants to set a standard against which local authority Trading Standards staff and Small Claims Courts can judge clampers’ behaviour.The British Parking Association has produced the Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Public Car Parks, which is being supported by the RAC Foundation. At the moment anyone attaching a clamp to a vehicle parked on private land has to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority, but it is claimed there are big loopholes in the legislation, including the fact that the license is not backed by any mandatory code of practice.

The RAC is concerned that many clampers charge as much as they like and that while a license is required to attach a wheel clamp there is need for a licence to demand a removal fee. That, the Foundation believes, means cowboy firms are still able to employ people with criminal records to intimidate motorists into paying.

The Code of Practice sets out a model of best practice for individuals and organisations that carry out vehicle clamping. It sets recommended tariffs for clamping and towing in an effort to create an authoritative standard against which courts and Trading Standards Officers can measure unacceptable clamping behaviour. It also seeks to establish clear guidelines on what signs need to be displayed so that motorists are not misled into believing they are allowed to park.

Edmund King, the Executive Director of the RAC Foundation, said it wanted to see the code of practice given the force of law as part of the licensing procedure. “Until this happens, we are calling on the Government and all public bodies to pledge that they will employ only vehicle clamping companies who adhere to this code of practice,” he added.