Thursday, July 09, 2009

A £50 bounty for every car clamped: Scandal of motorists targeted on private land

Daily Mail
'Bounty hunter' wheelclampers are being paid £50 for every car they immobilise.
Private firms are offering the service free to landowners - and are paying their workers commission from the charges they impose to free the vehicle.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat Transport spokesman who uncovered the figures, said clampers were being given an 'outrageous' incentive to immobilise vehicles for profit.

His party has produced a dossier which shows firms touting for business.
One internet advert for a company named Crown Guarding, operating in the Hertfordshire area but giving only a mobile phone number as a contact, is offering £50 per vehicle commission.

It sets a minimum target of 'five clamps per day' and is looking for a clamper 'prepared to work hard and who is hungry to earn money'.
The scandal coincides with a report from the RAC Foundation saying that clamping companies are acting illegally by imposing an exorbitant charge for releasing cars which have been clamped or towed away.

The RAC says the law is wrong and 'open to challenge', and that it will support with its evidence any attempt to challenge it in court.

Both the RAC Foundation and the Liberal Democrats are calling for car clamping on private land to be outlawed altogether, as has been the case since 1992 in Scotland where anyone trying it is guilty of 'extortion'.

'Private land' ranges from pub car parks to derelict lots in city centres and even land belonging to church buildings and community centres.
The Home Office is consulting on a review of clamping legislation and expects to issue a report which will propose compulsory licensing of clamping companies rather than simply their employees.

The LibDem dossier highlights scores of companies offering commission-only or free clamping services.

One, Regional Parking Services, said: 'Our services are completed free of charge.
Yes, that's right. You (our client) pay us nothing for regulating parking on your private property. This includes our wheel clamping services, vehicle towing and illegal parking.'

Mr Baker said: 'It is outrageous that a private company, whose income may be directly related to the number of clamps put on vehicles, can demand huge sums from motorists who may well have committed no offence or infringed no parking conditions.

'It is quite wrong that there should be financial incentives for private companies to go round clamping vehicles.
'Clamping should be carried out only by public bodies such as the police or councils, or agents acting for them on a fixed-contract basis.'
He added: 'In other cases, such as with parking tickets, a motorist has a right of appeal to the courts.
With clamps, they have to pay up there and then if they want their car back, no matter how exorbitant the fee, and even if they think it has been wrongly issued.
The RAC report says wheel clampers are acting illegally by imposing huge charges for the release of cars parked on private land.

The concept of one citizen 'punishing' another is alien in English law, according to barrister Dr Chris Elliott.
He adds that clamping vehicles on private land could also breach human rights and is 'perverse'.
Dr Elliott said: 'The Home Office is proposing a new licensing regime for private clampers, but it is arguable that, if the release fee is unreasonable, their actions are incompatible with the Human Rights Act.'

No comments:

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog