Clamp Down on Private Clamping

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 10:44:56 Europe/London

From 1 October 2012, new legislation came into force, which bans the clamping and towing of vehicles on private land in England and Wales. 

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (“the Act”) bans clamping and towing in England and Wales (private clamping and towing has been illegal in Scotland since 1992) but will only apply in areas where there is not ‘lawful authority’ (i.e. specific legislation in force), which allows for vehicles to be immobilised or removed.. This means that vehicles can still be clamped or towed on public roads (where Road Traffic regulations will apply), and that statutory authorities, such as the DVLA, the Police and VOSA, will retain the ability to clamp and tow vehicles 

Clamping and towing will still also be lawful in areas, such as hospital, airport and railway station car parks, ports, harbours and river crossings, where by-laws, or other measures, have been specifically created to regulate parking. 

Critics have commented that, as a result of the clamping and towing ban, cowboy clampers will instead turn to ticketing; however, it is unlikely that these operators will be members of an accredited trade association or adhere to a code of practice.  Cowboy ticketers will not therefore be able to pursue those tickets by applying to DVLA for the registered keeper’s details. 

The Act also sees the introduction of the Parking on Private Land Appeals scheme (PoPLA), allowing all motorists, including commercial vehicle operators, to appeal against parking charges incurred on private land to the operator that issued the parking ticket. If the operator rejects the appeal, the motorist, or commercial vehicle operator, can turn to PoPLA. 

5 Outrageous Clamps 

  1. A Hampshire man was arrested and forced to give a DNA sample after damaging the sign which had been attached to his car by a clamping firm. The damage was worth just 4p. The case was thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service. 
  2. Rogue clampers in Doncaster threatened to take a three-year old girl hostage until her mother paid the sum of their clamp ‘ransom’. The mother had stopped to withdraw cash from a cash-point when the clampers (who escaped without punishment) struck.
  3. Officials protecting the Queen on her trip to Portsmouth were amazed to find their vehicles clamped by cowboy clamper, Mr Andrews. However, Andrews soon received his come-uppance when an officer returning to his vehicle arrested him for obstructing an officer in the execution of his duty. Andrews was convicted and fined £500. 
  4. A police officer in Derby returned to his squad car after investigating a burglary to find it had been clamped and adorned with yellow stickers. The clamper insisted that the copper had been illegally parked as he was not responding to a 999 call. The £60 fine was eventually waived. 
  5. A team of undertakers from Co-op Funerals found their hearse clamped when they left it momentarily to check on the coffin and flower arrangements at a nearby chapel. The undertakers were initially ordered to pay £200 but the clampers later waived this fee as a gesture of goodwill.  

For further information in relation to the clamping and towing ban or for advice and assistance in relation to any aspect of road transport or motoring law, contact Laura Hadzik (on 0161 828 1849 or 07831 291 538 or email her at laura.hadzik@jmw.co.uk) or Chris Proctor (on 0161 828 8304 or 07837 777 026 or email him at chris.proctor@jmw.co.uk).

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JWM Solicitors