Automobile Association damns private clamping as 'legalised mugging' and calls for a ban.

Motorists are being ‘legally mugged’ by clamping firms who rake in close on £1bn a year in fees. A damning report by the Automobile Association reveals that private contractors clamp half a million drivers for parking on private land. They charge up to £500 to remove the clamps.

But the AA says private parking enforcement is riven with ‘bad and immoral’ practices that are ‘frightening and often bordering on criminality’. The Daily Mail reports that anyone can set themselves up as a clamper. The only way to challenge their actions is to tackle them via the county courts, which can be drawn out and potentially very expensive.

And, amazingly, such firms can obtain drivers’ names and addresses from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, paying £2.50 per time.

The AA wants the government to outlaw clamping on private land in England and Wales, as it is in Scotland, where it is considered ‘extortion and theft’ ever since a 1992 legal ruling.

Existing measures by the security industry to self-regulate weren’t working. ‘Private parking enforcement is big business,’ said Paul Watters, the AA’s head of public affairs. ‘The public have absolutely no protection if a private firm acts unfairly – it is a civil matter and no one is interested in helping.’

Local councils should control where clamping can happen, says the AA. There should also be an independent appeal system. Even been clamped? Angry at the way they treated you? Tell us below.

Stephen Jury


August 21, 2009

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