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Immobilisation of Vehicles

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from Birmingham City Council on the proposals in the Crime and Security Bill relating to vehicle immobilisation businesses; and if he will make a statement. (319519)

Birmingham city council’s Public Protection Committee wrote to the Home Secretary on 11 February 2010 about the proposals in the Crime and Security Bill relating to vehicle immobilisation businesses. The council also previously wrote to Home Office Ministers on three occasions since 20 December 2007 about the regulation of vehicle immobilisation business, including a response to our public consultation published in April 2009 on how best to regulate vehicle immobilisation (VI) businesses operating on private land.

Our proposals for the regulation of vehicle immobilisation business as set out in the Crime and Security Bill will make it mandatory for all wheel clamping businesses working on private land, as well as their employees, to be licensed by the SIA under the terms of a code of practice. The conditions of the code will include a cap on fines, time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped and clear instructions for putting up signs warning drivers that clamping takes place. In addition, the proposals include the setting up of an independent appeals process to enable motorists to appeal where they consider that the terms of the code have been breached.

The conditions of the code will have statutory force, and will be set out in regulations before the code is published. Failure to comply with the code, or operating without a business licence, will be a criminal offence and could result in prosecution.

We believe our proposals under the Bill will address the issues raised by Birmingham city council in their correspondence.