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CODE OF PRACTICE FOR 'CLAMPERS' LAUNCHED

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The British Parking Association has launched its Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unreg...
The British Parking Association has launched its Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Public Car Parks, Part 1: Vehicle Immobilisation or Removal.

The code provides a model of best practice for individuals or organisations undertaking vehicle immobilisation or removal of vehicles on private land. Its main objective is to help raise standards in the parking sector and ensure that vehicle immobilisation and removal is undertaken in a responsible, effective and efficient manner.

The BPA believes that licensing of clampers is a good first step to regulating the industry. However, the association has been lobbying the Security Industry Authority (SIA), who introduced licensing last year, to go a step beyond this and to make their Approved Contractors Scheme mandatory (at the moment it is voluntary). Having such a scheme would mean that the public could quickly find out if a company is 'approved', and ultimately it would help drive rogue traders out of the industry. The BPA has offered the SIA the Code of Practice as a way of ensuring good practice by Approved Contractors.

Importantly the Code includes recommended charges (fees) for such activity and guidance on signage, both of which are currently lacking from the SIA approach.

Key recommendations outlined in the Code include:

When clamping should/should not be used - for example, liveried vehicles being used for official fire, police or ambulance purposes and health workers who are on call at an address in the area under control should not be clamped or removed unless they are causing a serious obstruction or causing danger.

Signage - clamping and removal should only take place where there are clear and adequate signs and these are visible from all parts of the area concerned at all times. Signage should state that the land is private property, include contact details for the operator and details of the fee required and release times.

Photography - the code recommends that photographs are taken before clamping or removal of the vehicle, indicating its position relative to the sign advising of removal/clamping provisions.

Fees - that the fees levied for properly clamped or removed vehicles on private land are in line with those charged in the same area if the vehicle had been clamped on-street by the relevant parking authority.

Keith Banbury, chief executive of the British Parking Association, comments: 'Rogue traders have in the past given this sector a poor public image through questionable practice and by charging the public steep rates. The code aims to instil good practice in the field of vehicle immobilisation and removal, raise the standards, and ultimately drive the rogues out.

'We welcome the support we have received from the AA and RAC in creating the code and will continue to press both the Security Industry Authority and the government to do more to regulate this sector by introducing a Compulsory Approved Contractors Scheme based onthis code.'

Paul Watters, AA Motoring Trust comments: 'The AA Motoring Trust welcomes the BPA's Code of Practice for wheel clamping on private land. The code is designed to raise standards in the wheel clamping sector which, despite SIA licensing, continues to cause people concern about sharp practice and profiteering. Ideally a code like this should become an integral part of the licensing regime.'

Kevin Delaney, head of traffic and road safety, The RAC Foundation for Motoring adds: 'The RAC Foundation for Motoring wholeheartedly supports the BPA wheel clamping Code of Practice. It is concise, fair, workable and, above all, responsible and represents a genuine attempt to introduce a welcome element of reassurance into the sphere of off-street wheel clamping.

'Whilst the code is primarily directed at BPA members, themselves responsible organisations, it could and should be considered by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) as a model of good practice and be incorporated into the SIA Approved Contractors Scheme.'

The new code was drawn up by the BPA's Vehicle Immobilisation and Removal Special Interest Group. The group took into account the previous 2002 code and undertook a consultation exercise across the parking industry.

The launch is of Part 1 of the Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Car Parks. Part 2 - which is due to be published in late 2006 - will provide a similar Code covering the issue of Penalty Notices or 'parking tickets' on private land.

Notes

On-Street and Off-Street Parking

All on-street parking is controlled by local authorities and regulated by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Road Traffic Act 1991, and is subject to detailed statutory regulations and enforcement, which includes control of clamping and removal of vehicle operations. Some off-street car parks are controlled by local authorities and may be regulated by the same legislation, but not all are regulated; additionally those operated by the commercial sector are not usually subject to regulation in the same way.

Security Industry Authority

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 regulates the functions of vehicle immobilisation and removal of vehicles on private land and in private car parks accessible to the public, which means that those involved must apply for and gain a licence - working in vehicle immobilisation or removal is illegal without this licence. These functions are regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

The BPA Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Public Car Parks, Part 1: Vehicle Immobilisation or Removal can be downloaded here.

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