The Government is to get tough with cowboy firms who charge up to £500 to remove clamps.
New, tough rules to curb the antics of car-park clamping firms could mean jail sentences of up to five years if they step too far out of line.
Following a campaign by the Daily Mail highlighting the excessive charges levied on drivers who park where they shouldn’t on private land, the Government has agreed that clampers should be licensed and subject to a new, tougher code of conduct.
The Security Industry Authority code will fix the penalty for having a clamp removed at a £40 maximum outside London and £70 in the capital. The towing away of vehicles within minutes of clamping will be prohibited. The maximum for recovering a towed car will be fixed at around £105 outside London or £200 within. Currently, clampers charge up to £500.
Clampers will also be banned from using pressure tactics, including marching motorists to cash-point machines so that they pay in cash on the spot. Neither will they be able to hide signs to catch out drivers.
The code is currently being finalised. Those who disobey it face a three-strikes-and-out scale which means that, if they keep offending, they will lose their licence to clamp. If they then continue to target motorists, they face fines of up to £5000 and up to five years in jail.
Land owners who allow illegal clampers to operate will also face prison.
What’s more, motorists who feel they have been charged too much or unfairly treated will have be able to appeal to an independent panel, funded by a charge on the parking companies. At present, they can only appeal to the companies themselves.
The new rules apply only to parking on private land, which at present is unregulated.