The home office is drawing up plans which would mean all security staff - clampers, bouncers, security guards - will have to be licensed. Anyone with a criminal record would be banned.
Fees for releasing clamped vehicles will be limited to between£50 and£100. Victims of clamping will have the right of appeal and, for the first time, clampers will have to show they have followed the letter of the law laid down by a new Private Security Industry Authority.
A Whitehall source said: 'There is now a general recognition that such a big industry needs to come under a proper regulatory authority. The new authority will mean that everyone who works in the security industry will have to be licensed by the authority. It will ensure bouncers and security guards cannot be employed if they have criminal records. It will put an end to unscrupulous wheel clampers'.