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Wheel Clamping

Volume 551: debated on Monday 15 October 2012

The Petition of residents of Barrowford, Lancashire, and others,

Declares that they are opposed to the clamping of cars on the side street of Spar on Gisburn Road, Barrowford by Mr John Kay.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage people engaged in wheel clamping on private land to anticipate the imminent change in law by desisting in the activity and dismiss fines already imposed.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Andrew Stephenson, Official Report, 18 September 2012; Vol. 550, c. 888.]

[P001120]

Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

Until 1 October 2012 any person undertaking the licensable activities of a vehicle immobiliser would, by law, have been required to hold and display a valid Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. The Government would not be in a position to dismiss a charge for release of a vehicle where it was lawfully clamped or towed prior to 1 October. The Government consider that wheel-clamping and towing away without lawful authority is no longer acceptable and that is why the Government made a commitment in the Coalition Programme to ban this deplorable practice.

The Government introduced provisions for the ban in section 54 of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which gained Royal Assent on 1 May 2012.

The provisions were subsequently commenced on 1 October 2012. From this date, it became an offence to clamp, tow, block in or otherwise immobilise a vehicle without lawful authority in England and Wales. Northern Ireland is considering the issue and has recently conducted a public consultation on this and other private security matters. A ban on clamping has been in place in Scotland since 1992.

To be guilty of the new offence, the person immobilising or moving the vehicle must intend to prevent or inhibit the removal of the vehicle by its driver or owner, whether or not there is any intent to demand a fee for release of the vehicle. The maximum penalty for the new offence is an unlimited fine on conviction in the crown court; or a fine of up to the statutory maximum (currently £5,000) in the Magistrates’ court.

It is the Government’s firm belief that the ban will now end the abuses by rogue clamping firms who prior to the ban preyed on motorists by charging excessive release fees, displaying unclear signage and resorting too readily to the towing away of vehicles.