New laws come into force on 1 October 2012 that will ban car clamping and towing by anyone other than the police, local authorities, government agencies and bailiffs. Property owners or occupiers who flout the ban will commit a criminal offence.
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 introduces a new criminal offence of immobilising, moving or restricting the movement of a vehicle without "lawful authority" on private land. It is not possible for lawful authority to be conferred by obtaining the owner's consent, and any notices warning of such parking restrictions will be ineffective.
The maximum penalty is an unlimited fine following conviction on indictment, and on summary conviction a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (currently £5,000).
However, the Act has introduced provisions for the keeper of a vehicle to be held liable for unpaid parking charges where the identity of the driver is not known, provided that a specified procedure is followed. It also allows regulations to be made to extend the powers of the police to remove vehicles from private land where they are illegally, obstructively or dangerously parked or have broken down.