Sir George pursues wheel-clamping with Ministers
16 Sep 2004
Letters to Protec no longer being collected
Letters to Protec no longer being collected
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"Over the past few months, a number of constituents have written to me complaining about the activity of a wheel-clamping firm in Andover. I have pursued these complaints with the firm, but they have chosen not to answer any of my letters. I am therefore unable to come to a final conclusion as to why the company has behaved as it did. No other firm in Andover has failed to reply to my letters.
I am in touch with some of the local companies who apparently employ this firm to get their comments on this unusual behaviour. I have also pursued the law on wheel-clamping with Ministers, and all the correspondence is below. I am delighted that the law is being tightened, and I would like to hear from constituents who have been in touch with this firm - and indeed from the firm itself"

"However, I notice that letters which I write to the address that my constituents have been given are not being collected."


Hazel Blears MP
Minister of State, Home Office
50 Queen Anne’s Gate
London SW1H 9AT

17 August 2004

Thank you for your letter of 30 July on behalf of your constituent XXX of XXX about a wheel clamping company operating in your constituency.

I was sorry to hear about your constituent's recent experience with the wheel clamping company. I will explain how the law applies to such companies and about Government action to deal with the problems caused by rogue clamping operatives.

Wheel clamping on private land is legal in England and Wales within certain limits, and can be an effective way of controlling unwanted parking. Clamping a vehicle is not a criminal offence, nor is charging the vehicle owner a release fee, if the owner of the land gives permission. However, there may be circumstances when in carrying out these actions criminal offences are committed. For example:

• For criminal damage it must be proved that a person had intentionally or recklessly caused damage. (Case law has held that simply clamping a car does not amount to criminal damage and there appear to be no reported cases of criminal damage in this context.)

• For theft it must be proved that a person had dishonestly appropriated the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the other of it. In all cases, it is for the police and Crown Prosecution Service to look into the details and decide whether an offence has been committed and, if so, what offence it is.

There may also be grounds for a claim in the civil courts and damages may be awarded depending on the reasonableness of the circumstances, for example, the prominence and visibility of warning notices and the reasonableness of redemption charges. However, the prospects of success in a civil action may not always be clear and such action will generally involve additional expense for the motorist.

Outside of these provisions of the criminal and civil law, there are currently no regulations governing the activities of those who clamp vehicles on private land, nor do they have to be registered. The Private Security Industry Act will however begin to have an impact on protecting the public from rogue elements of the wheel clamping industry from later this year. The Act will regulate specific sectors of the private security industry, including wheel clampers operating on private land. It includes provisions to protect the public by ensuring basic standards of probity across the private security industry. We have now established the Security Industry Authority (SIA), which became a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) on 1 April 2003, to act as the industry regulator.

The Authority is expected to begin licensing clamping operatives (including managers and supervisors in clamping companies) towards the end of 2004. Licensing of door supervisors started on 1 March this year (on a regional roll
out) and the SIA will move onto wheel clampers as soon as practicable. There will be three checks on people applying for licences: the first will be an identity check of the licence applicant, the second will be a criminal record check to see if they have any relevant previous convictions, and the third will be a check on professional competence to do the job. The competencies required will include sections on proper payment procedures, correct identification and use of signs, lines and enforcement vehicles, discretionary parking and customer care skills.
The legislation also requires the SIA to establish a voluntary approved contractor scheme, although the 2001 Act does contain a power to make such a scheme compulsory. The framework for an Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) has now been agreed and follows extensive consultation with key stakeholders from the industry. It has been decided that the scheme will be voluntary with sector specific approval based on a relevant set of qualifying criteria. Companies that operate in more than one sector will not be disadvantaged. Further details will appear on the SIA website {www.the-sia.org.uk) as they are finalised and will include provisions for the handling of complaints and disputes.

In the meantime, a separate independent organisation called the British Parking Association (BPA) has produced a volunteer’s code of practice and established a register of companies that agree to operate within that code. This has no legal force but it is a useful initiative in terms of self-regulation. Among other provisions, the code lays down both a ceiling on charges and a complaints procedure.

Should XXX require any further information about the BPA’s Code of Practice, the BPA can be contacted at 2 Clair Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3DP, telephone 01444 447300. Its website is www.britishparking.co.uk

Yours,

Hazel Blears


Managing Director
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB 15 March 2004















One of my constituents, who has had to pay a £70 fine in order to be unclamped, has contacted me to protest against the action that was taken against her. My constituent is reluctant to reveal her identity, because she is worried about the publicity.

It would be helpful if you could let me know what flexibility there is within your system to waive the fine in compassionate cases, and whether your complaints procedure has resulted in any money been reimbursed.

Yours faithfully


Mr B Dixon
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB 18 June 2004


Our Ref: AND317













Miss XX has sent me a copy of the letter dated May 14th which she sent to Mr Noakes, and I very much hope you will look sympathetically at her appeal. It seems that if she had gone out of the rear exit there wouldn’t have been a problem, but because she went out of the front exit to say goodbye to her friends and then walked down the side exit, there was time to clamp her. She does seem to me to have had a very raw deal.

Yours sincerely


Mr B Dixon
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB 7 July 2004


Our Ref: AND317













\ I wrote to you on June 18th about the above, and attach a copy of my letter for your convenience.

I cannot trace having had a reply, and wonder whether you are now in a position to reply to the points I made?

Yours sincerely







Managing Director
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB July 12, 2004
















\ I wrote to you on March 15th, and attach a copy of my letter for your convenience. I cannot trace having had a reply, and my constituent has contacted me, eager for a response.

I wonder if you are now in a position to reply to the issues I raised.

Yours faithfully

Managing Director
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB 29 July 2004














\ I wrote to you on March 15th and again on July 12th about a constituent of mine. I attach copies of my letters for ease of reference.

I still have not have had a reply, and wonder if you would be kind enough to respond to the issues I raised at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely


Mr B Dixon
Protec Parking Services Ltd
PO Box 1748
Andover
Hampshire SP10 1BB 29 July 2004















I have written to you twice about the above constituent (June 18th and July 7th) and cannot trace having had a reply to either of these letters.

My constituent is, understandably, pressing me for a reply, and I would be grateful if you could respond to the issues I raised in my letter dated June 18th.

Yours sincerely






























 
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