UK Government

Home Office: Independent appeals tribunals and cap on fines to be introduced as Home Office moves to curb rogue wheel clampers

Press Release   •   Feb 01, 2010 11:30 GMT

Motorists across England, Wales and Northern Ireland could soon challenge unfair practice by wheel clamping firms through independent tribunals, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced today.

Motorists across England, Wales and Northern Ireland could soon challenge unfair practice by wheel clamping firms through independent tribunals, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced today.

Members of the public who claim they have been unfairly clamped will be able to take their grievance to the independent tribunals.

Appeals will be heard by powerful and independent adjudicators who will have the power to require clamping companies pay back excessive fees to motorists and award compensation.

The policy has been tabled as an amendment to the new Crime and Security Bill. Firms will also face a cap on fines as the Government moves to drive down abuses within the clamping industry.

The policy will be added to existing Government plans for a compulsory licensing scheme for clamping firms. The scheme will make it mandatory for all wheel clamping businesses to be licensed under the terms of a strict code of conduct. Businesses which fail to comply could be prosecuted or have their licence to practice taken away. Licensing will be administered and controlled by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

The code will include limits on fees for wheel clamp release, time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped and set out clear instructions for putting up signs warning drivers that clamping takes place.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, said:

"The Government is committed to preventing abuses by unscrupulous wheel clamping firms and their employees.

"The introduction of an independent appeals process will for the first time provide independent recourse for motorists who feel aggrieved by unfair practices of rogue clamping businesses.

"The process will form part of the Government's compulsory licensing scheme, which will further regulate the industry and provide a fair system for motorists."

Currently, any individual undertaking wheel clamping must hold a frontline licence from the Security Industry Authority, with supervisors or directors holding a non-frontline licence.

The new Compulsory Licensing Scheme will require businesses to hold a licence before they can engage in wheel clamping and charging a release fee.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Security Industry Authority regulates the private security industry in Great Britain under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, reporting to the Home Secretary.

2. This includes the licensing of any individual in England and Wales involved in immobilising vehicles on private land with a view to charging a release fee. It also requires the licensing of anyone involved in blocking in or towing away vehicles for the same purpose, and of those who collect the fee.

3. Businesses are not required to be licensed under the 2001 Act at present. Businesses may, however, seek accreditation under the SIA's voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme.

4. The new Crime and Security Bill provides a framework for a compulsory licensing scheme. Proposals for an independent appeals process have been tabled as an amendment to the Bill.

5. The industry wide code of practice, which wheel clamping firms will have to adhere to in order to hold a licence, is likely to include standards for:

* signage, including size and visibility;
* maximum release fees charged and payment methods;
* minimum time between immobilisation and removal;
* providing evidence that a parking infringement has taken place; and
* security and location of pound where vehicles are impounded.

6. Any enquiries should be directed to Home Office Press Office on 0207 035 3535.

014/2010

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