Car parking penalty tickets reach record high

Multiple Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) on a car

5.65 million car parking penalty tickets were issued last year by private car park operators according to analysis of government data.

In January this year, we wrote a post entitled Parking Cowboys to be stopped by law, explaining how the UK government was planning to support a change in legislation to raise standards among parking companies and to prevent motorists from unreasonably large charges.

The RAC Foundation who conducted the research estimated car parking penalty tickets to raise above 6 million in 2018. Figures for 2017 suggest this estimate for 2018 may well be surpassed.

According to the RAC the number of car parking penalty tickets in the financial year 2017/8 have increased twenty one times the amount issued in the financial year 2006/7 from 272,000 to 5,650,000 as shown in the table below.

Financial yearNumber of vehicle keeper records obtained from the DVLA by parking management companies
2017/185.65 million
2016/174.71 million
2015/163.67 million
2014/153.06 million
2013/142.43 million
2012/131.89 million
2011/121.57 million
2010/111.17 million
2009/101.03 million
TOTAL26.64 million

The top five car parking management companies buying vehicle keeper records in 2017-18 were:

  1. ParkingEye Ltd – 1,768,233 records (1,530,259 in 2016-17)
  2. Euro Car Parks – 406,323 records (306,857)
  3. Smart Parking Ltd – 390,860 records (329,157)
  4. Athena ANPR Ltd – 318,486 records (246,743)
  5. Ranger Services Ltd for Highview Parking Ltd – 274,591 records (271,917)

Private parking companies wishing to purchase vehicle data held by the DVLA need to be members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and abide by the ATA’s code of practice. There are currently two ATAs: the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community.

Both ATAs have established independent appeals services to which drivers can take their cases questioning the validity of tickets if initial appeals to member firms themselves fail. There are companies offering help to appeal against car parking penalty tickets issued by car parking operators such as Parking Cowboys and POPLA.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Each year we publish this analysis and each year we are not only astonished by the numbers involved, but also by the fact that those numbers keep rocketing up.

“The true volume of tickets being issued might actually be significantly higher still as some firms will simply slap a demand onto a windscreen for the driver to find when they return to their vehicle.

“Pursuing so many people must be a major administrative task for the companies involved, but the questions the numbers really beg are: what’s going wrong? Are Britain’s motorists really flouting the rules on such an industrial scale?

“We strongly support Sir Greg Knight in his initiative to get some regulation in place through a private member’s bill that will establish much-needed independent scrutiny of what’s going on in the private parking world. Only then can we be reassured that the cards aren’t stacked against the motorist.”