ParkingEye continues to be the private parking operator making the most requests for vehicle keeper data from DVLA. Parking companies use the data to send demands for payment of parking charge notices to car owners who have breached parking conditions on private land.
The DVLA own figures reveal that in the first quarter of the financial year 2016/17, some 1,075,852 vehicle keeper records were provided by the DVLA to private parking companies. The number of keeper detail requests made by private parking companies in the first quarter of 2015-16 was 883,560. The total number of records released in 2015/16 was 3,715,122.
DVLA’s latest KADOE (Keeper At Date Of Event) tables reveal that ParkingEye accounted for over a third of these requests, asking for details of 334,714 vehicle keepers, up from 264,247 in the same period last year. This is also four times the level of requests made by the second company, Smart Parking.
Top 20 parking companies making vehicle keeper requests to DVLA (1st quarter 2016-17)
Source: DVLA KADOE (Keeper on date of event) database
The RAC Foundation, a transport policy and research organisation, has analysed the DVLA figures and predicts that the final tally of vehicle keeper requests will surpass that for last year. “The 1.07m figure is the highest ever quarterly total and if the pattern is repeated in subsequent quarters it would mean around 4m records being released – and hence penalty tickets being issued - by the end of the current financial year,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.
“This would be a 1,370% increase on the 272,000 figure of a decade ago (2006/07) and compares with the 3.7m records released by the DVLA in 2015/16.”
The DVLA charges the parking companies £2.50 for each record released. A number of private parking companies work as contractors for public bodies and get free access to DVLA data, said the RAC Foundation.
The motoring research body points out that there is no statutory limit on how much a parking charge should be set at, however a code of practice drawn up by the British Parking Association (BPA) for members of its Approved Operator Scheme suggests a maximum amount of £100.
“If this amount were commonly used, then each year drivers are being chased for approximately £400m penalties alone,” said Gooding. “There is no way of reading these figures other than as an indication of yet another increase in the number of tickets being issued to drivers parked on private land. Why else would parking companies request vehicle keeper records?”
Gooding questioned why the number of parking charges being issued is rising at a time when parking companies are being encouraged to display some discretion. “You have to ask how legitimate these penalties are?” he asked. “The BPA’s own code of practice calls for a 10-minute grace period after paid-for and time-limited free parking expires, so is the industry really saying that four million drivers a year are even later getting back to their vehicle? Fifteen times more than just ten years ago? It beggars belief.”
The private parking management sector has become increasingly profit motivated, Gooding argued. “Parking on private land long ago stopped being a cottage industry and became big business. So lucrative is it that at least one parking operator is already owned by a firm that ranks amongst the top 100 public limited companies in the country.
“In an ideal system that was working few if any drivers would get penalty charges, certainly not several million annually. Yet we have heard of examples where some firms actually pay landowners for the privilege of managing their car parks in the anticipation that they will make their money back from penalties. How can that be right?”
Gooding called on the DVLA to rethink its policy on the release of data to private parking companies. “Is the DVLA really content with the current situation? Is it sure that the criteria under which it releases personal data is as robust as it should be? We need a clearer, more equitable set of rules to balance the interests of landowners and motorists.”
Between 2006 and 2015 the DVLA published reports called Who DVLA Shares Data With, which showed in aggregate how many vehicle keeper records were shared with parking companies.
Vehicle keeper data requests 2006-2015
2006/7 – 272,215
2007/8 – 499,732
2008/9 – 687,138
2009/10 – 1,036,084
2010/11 – 1,178,034
2011/12 – 1,574,397
2012/13 – 1,897,572
2013/14 – 2,430,130
2014/15 – 3,083,276
After these dates the DVLA swapped reporting system to KADOE (Keeper At Date Of Event) tables that appear in spreadsheet form.
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