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News Lead Story: Issue 242 4 May 2012

New Act makes it illegal to clamp vehicles on private land

Deniz Huseyin

The Protection of Freedoms Act, which outlaws wheel clamping and the removal of vehicles on private land, has gained Royal Assent. Section 54 of the Act makes it a criminal offence to clamp cars on private land "without lawful authority". From October it will be illegal to clamp or tow away vehicles parked on private land.

The Home Office said that under the Act “thousands of motorists will be protected from rogue wheel clamping firms.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The ban on clamping represents progress since it will stop people being deprived of their vehicles. Ticketing does not involve that unacceptable feature of clamping. Ticketing is already covered by existing consumer protection legislation when there is a prominent sign stating the terms and conditions of using the land.” The ban will save motorists about £55m a year in clamping charges, said the spokesman.

John Kruse, founder of the Bailiff Studies Centre, claims that the removal of vehicles on private land will still be possible. He said that landowners will retain the common law right of 'distress damage feasant'. He said: “This will permit them (and their enforcement agents) to simply start towing and impounding vehicles instead of clamping them. This worsens the situation and does not solve it.”

Ticketing of vehicles on private land will be permitted using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems. To get automatic access to DVLA vehicle details, car park operators will have to be members of the British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme (AOS). Orders enacting measures in the Act — which also includes a code of practice for CCTV and ANPR systems overseen by a new surveillance camera commissioner — will begin from early July.

Discuss this and more at Parking Review's Enforcement Summit on the 10 July


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