Wheel clamping without lawful authority was banned in England and Wales from 1 October 2012, with anyone breaking the law facing criminal charges and a fine.
New legislation, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 will make it an offence to clamp, tow, block-in or immobilise a vehicle on private land. These long-awaited changes to the law are designed to end abuses by rogue clamping firms who prey on motorists by charging excessive release fees. If clampers break the law, they could be liable to an unlimited fine in the Crown Court or up to £5,000 in a Magistrates Court.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office Minister with responsibility for changes to vehicle clamping law, said “this common sense ban will give motorists the protection they deserve against rogue wheel-clamping and towing companies. It will save motorists £55 million each year in clamping charges and finally penalise the real criminals, the corrupt firms themselves.”
Other changes to vehicle laws include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land. This will protect landowners from irresponsible motorists and will grant them a means to keep their land clear from obstructive or dangerously parked cars. Laws surrounding the ticketing of cars are also being strengthened, so unpaid charges can be claimed from the keeper of the vehicle, as well as the driver. The Government has also agreed that an Independent Appeals Service funded by the British Parking Association will be established from 1 October. This free service will allow motorists to appeal a parking charge issued on private land by a company that is a member of the BPA’s Approved Operator Scheme.
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said “these new parking arrangements deliver a fairer legal framework for motorists and landowners, while getting rid of the indiscriminate clamping and towing by private companies for good.”