Motorists across England, Wales and Northern Ireland could soon challenge unfair practice by wheel clamping firms through independent tribunals, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced today. Members of the public who claim they have been unfairly clamped will be able to take their grievance to the independent tribunals. Appeals will be heard by powerful and independent adjudicators who will have the power to require clamping companies pay back excessive fees to motorists and award compensation.
The policy has been tabled as an amendment to the new Crime and Security Bill. Firms will also face a cap on fines as the Government moves to drive down abuses within the clamping industry. The policy will be added to existing Government plans for a compulsory licensing scheme for clamping firms. The scheme will make it mandatory for all wheel clamping businesses to be licensed under the terms of a strict code of conduct. Businesses which fail to comply could be prosecuted or have their licence to practice taken away. Licensing will be administered and controlled by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). The code will include limits on fees for wheel clamp release, time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped and set out clear instructions for putting up signs warning drivers that clamping takes place.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, said: “The Government is committed to preventing abuses by unscrupulous wheel clamping firms and their employees. The introduction of an independent appeals process will for the first time provide independent recourse for motorists who feel aggrieved by unfair practices of rogue clamping businesses. The process will form part of the Government’s compulsory licensing scheme, which will further regulate the industry and provide a fair system for motorists.”
Currently, any individual undertaking wheel clamping must hold a frontline licence from the Security Industry Authority, with supervisors or directors holding a non-frontline licence. The new Compulsory Licensing Scheme will require businesses to hold a licence before they can engage in wheel clamping and charging a release fee.