- Information is being sold for around £2.50 a vehicle, making £1.5m per month
- This is then being used by parking companies to chase fines of up to £100
- MPs are calling for a crackdown as trade in information reaches record levels
James Salmon Transport Correspondent For The Daily Mail
Parking firms are buying details of more than 19,000 vehicles a day from the DVLA to chase unpaid fines.
Last night MPs warned that ‘bully boy’ firms are using the information to hound innocent motorists.
They called for a crackdown to protect drivers as it was revealed that the trade in information has reached record levels.
Between April and June the DVLA sold 1.74million vehicle keeper records, up from 1.06million in the same period last year. The DVLA, which sells the information for £2.50 a vehicle, is generating almost £1.5million a month.
Parking firms are buying details of more than 19,000 vehicles a day from the DVLA to chase unpaid fines (file image)
The information is used by parking companies to chase drivers for fines of up to £100.
The most prolific of these is ParkingEye, owned by outsourcing firm Capita – which was exposed by the Daily Mail for using ruthless tactics to collect TV licence fees for the BBC.
It obtained 570,000 vehicle records in the three-month period, followed by Smart Parking with 125,000 and Euro Car Parks with 118,000.
The RAC Foundation said the industry is out of control, with the data suggesting a parking fine is issued every four and half seconds. It warned that the details of around seven million vehicles could be sold during the financial year, which would suggest that almost a quarter of motorists are being chased for a parking fine.
MPs are worried that the information is being widely misused, with motorists unfairly targeted while visiting hospitals and high street shops. Drivers have complained about being fined up to £100 for returning their cars a few minutes late, or after being unable to buy a ticket because of a faulty ticket machine.
Tory MP Sir Greg Knight said there appears to be a worrying rise in a practice known as ‘ghost ticketing’.
This is when a warden puts a ticket on a car and takes a photo. The warden then removes the ticket so the driver is unaware they were given one.
The firm waits 14 days, then hits the driver with an increased fine of up to £100 because they have not paid.
Jacob Rees-Mogg wants the DVLA to srike off companies ‘suspected of behaving badly’
Sir Greg, who has tabled a private members’ Bill in the Commons to crack down on the self-regulated parking industry, said: ‘These figures are concerning. It is highly unlikely there has been a massive increase in bad parking.
‘Instead bully-boy parking firms are hounding innocent motorists and milking them for money. We need to put rogue firms out of business. There are many private parking companies who are playing fair. But others are clearly making a killing out of pursuing and persecuting motorists who have done nothing wrong.’
Fellow Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘My concern is that some of these firms use the fines they levy as part of their business model.
‘This gives them a strong incentive to levy fines unjustly and aggressively. We would not need a new law if DVLA was more willing to strike off companies suspected of behaving badly.’
A ParkingEye spokesman said: ‘We operate with clear, standard and proportionate procedures which follow the British Parking Association’s code of practice. We encourage people who have received a parking charge to appeal if they think they should not have received a charge.’