Parking tickets handed to drivers have risen by one million in the last 12 months.
A record-breaking number of fines were given to drivers who parked in private car parks last year, with more than a million extra tickets issued than in 2016/17.
The RAC Foundation’s analysis shows 5.65m sets of vehicle keeper records were released to enforcement companies who issue fines to motorists in privately owned car parks in 2017/18.
Almost all of these records were used to find motorists who were considered to break rules in private car parks. In 2016/17, the DVLA released 4.71 million sets of records to the parking firms, while the number was just 499,000 in 2007/18.
The fines differ from the Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) issued by councils and only apply to private car parks. Often, and confusingly for many, they are called “Parking Charge Notices” and appear very similar to the tickets issued by councils.
Motorists were fined as much as £100 for overstaying, which according to the RAC Foundation, means parking firms could be demanding up to £565m from drivers, based on a £100 fine for every set of records they requested from the DVLA.
In 2017-18, a total of 119 parking companies received data from the DVLA, 10 more than in the previous financial years.
These five companies asked for the most data:
- ParkingEye Ltd – 1,768,233 records (1,530,259 in 2016-17)
- Euro Car Parks – 406,323 records (306,857)
- Smart Parking Ltd – 390,860 records (329,157)
- Athena ANPR Ltd – 318,486 records (246,743)
- Ranger Services Ltd for Highview Parking Ltd – 274,591 records (271,917)
Private parking firms can request vehicle records under the Protection of Freedoms Act, and are able to fine the vehicle’s owner, no matter who drove it to the private car park.
The firms, which are banned from clamping unless there are “exceptional circumstances”, must be members of either the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community trade associations.
Both have independent appeals services for drivers to contest their fines.
The RAC Foundation is backing a Sir Greg Knight MP’s bid to better regulate the private parking market and make sure it is fair for motorists.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Each year we publish this analysis and each year we are not only astonished by the numbers involved, but also by the fact that those numbers keep rocketing up.
“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.”
Number of vehicle keeper records obtained from the DVLA by parking management companies:
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
TOTAL 26.64 million