- From July to September, more than 1.4million vehicle keeper records were sold
- This is almost 13 times as much as were sold in the second quarter of 2007/8
- The RAC Foundation says private firms are gearing up for ‘Christmas bonanza’
James Salmon for the Daily Mail
Private parking firms are buying the details of almost 16,000 drivers a day from the DVLA so they can hound them for fines.
Latest figures released by the government agency revealed it sold more than 1.4million vehicle keeper records between July and September.
This was almost 13 times the 111,944 records sold a decade earlier in the second quarter of 2007/8.
The information is used to pursue vehicle owners for penalties of up to £100 for supposed infringements of parking regulations on private land.
The DVLA sold more than 1.4million vehicle keeper records between July and September
The RAC Foundation has warned private parking companies are ‘gearing up for a Christmas bonanza’ as motorists come out in force to do their shopping.
The motoring charity said the number of records sold this financial year is on course to hit record levels – reaching at least 5.6million and could easily be more than 6 million- comfortably exceeding the 4.71million records sold to parking companies in 2016/17.
In 2007/8 the total was 499,732.
The practice is highly lucrative for the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Authority which makes around £1.2million a month from selling the records – at £2.50 a vehicle.
Parking companies have been criticised by MPs for targeting motorists using hospital car parks or visiting High Street stores.
Drivers have complained about being fined up to £100 for returning to their cars a few minutes late, or after being unable to buy a ticket because of a faulty machine.
In extreme cases, families have faced financial ruin after unfair parking fines have resulted in County Court judgments against them.
But despite promises by ministers to crack down – including a manifesto commitment from Theresa May’s government – some parking companies have ramped up efforts to catch out motorists.
Last night one MP said the growing trade in vehicle records underlined the need for tougher legislation
Sir Greg Knight, Tory MP for East Yorkshire will put forward a private members’ bill in the new year calling for rogue firms to be banned from buying DVLA data and a mandatory code of practice.
He said: ‘These figures underline the need for this legislation as clearly self-regulation is not working.
I do not believe that there has been such a dramatic deterioration in the standards of drivers’ behaviour that has led to this increase. It seems to be driven by the fact that for some companies, issuing penalty tickets is the only source of income they have.’
The number of vehicle details requested has soared since legislation was introduced in 2012
He added: ‘If a firm is shown to be a rogue company riding roughshod over fair play I hope to persuade Parliament that they should be banned from accessing DVLA record.’
The number of vehicle details requested has soared since legislation was introduced in 2012.
The Protection of Freedoms Act banned clamping on private land, such as hospital car parks, except in exceptional circumstances.
But the law also meant that parking firms only have to establish who the registered keeper of the vehicle is, not who was driving it at the time – triggering a surge in the number of details purchased from the DVLA.
The most prolific of the private firms is ParkingEye, owned by outsourcing firm Capita which was exposed by the Daily Mail for using ruthless tactics to collect licence fees for the BBC.
It obtained 466,669 vehicle keeper records in the between July and September.
The firm operates thousands of car parks on behalf of pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, shopping centres and hospitals.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: (please use some or all of this quote) ‘We all like to think we will bag a bargain at this time of year, but our festive shopping could come at a very high price.
‘Private parking firms are already issuing tickets at an unprecedented rate and if history is anything to go by they will be breaking yet more records in the weeks ahead.
‘Drivers should be very wary of overstaying their welcome in private car parks by even a matter of moments, and they should not give these firms any other reason to come after them with demands for eyewatering sums which will spoil their Christmas.’