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Cowboy clampers to face tightening of the law

Cowboy clampers may be stopped in their tracks if a new code of practice being launched today is backed by the Government.

The RAC Foundation is backing the British Parking Association’s Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Public Car Parks to drive unscrupulous clampers out of business.

While anyone attaching a clamp to a vehicle parked on private land has to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority, there are huge loopholes in the legislation. For example:

  • The license is not backed by any mandatory code of practice so many clampers charge as much as they like.
  • A license is required to attach a wheel clamp to a vehicle. But demanding the release fee does not require a license, so cowboy firms are still able to employ people with criminal record to intimidate motorists into paying.

    Other abuses reported to the RAC Foundation by distressed motorists include:

  • a motorcycle was clamped on a petrol station forecourt while the rider was in the petrol station getting directions. The cost of release was £265. The police were called after the clampers threatened the rider but could take no action

  • a disabled motorist had to pay £314 to prevent her car being towed away from outside her daughter’s flat despite having her disabled badge on full display

  • two clampers forced a woman to walk home, fetch her cash point card, walk to the bank and return with the release fee of £125 despite having a mobile phone with them which she could have borrowed to call a friend for a lift. She took the money out in 50 pences and made them count it. The clampers then checked her tyres and tax disc to intimidate her further

  • a motorist clamped off the public highway rang and asked to be declamped – which according to the sign, would cost £85. Within minutes the clamper arrived to remove the clamp in a tow truck. He duly charged her £335: £85 for the clamp and £250 for the tow truck.
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