The coalition government has recently announced its intention to ban wheel clamping on private land in England and Wales.
This move follows a consultation in early 2009 on tightening wheel clamping regulations. The proposed changes will be of particular relevance to owners and occupiers of business and retail parks, shopping centres and all other premises where car parking is provided. The legislation will be included in the Freedom Bill which is to be introduced in November 2010, but it is not currently clear when the legislation is likely to take effect. It will also include measures to prevent companies towing away parked cars on private land, without permission.
The legislation will bring England and Wales into line with Scotland where clamping on private land was held by a judge to be "extortion" and "theft" and was banned almost twenty years ago. Home Office minister, Lynne Featherstone, is also understood to be speaking to the Justice Ministry in Northern Ireland about banning the practice there too.
Following the introduction of legislation, it is intended that licences to legally immobilise vehicles or remove them from private land will no longer be available from the Security Industry Authority and land owners who want to protect their land will have to do so by barrier methods or by introducing ticketing. It is also intended that a company flouting the new laws will face penalties.
The legislation will affect private land only and will not affect enforcement by local authorities and police on highways. If cars are parked dangerously on private land the police will still be able to tow them.
We will provide further information regarding the detail of the bill in due course. Where wheel clamping is used as a method of enforcing car parking regulations on private land, alternative preventative measures will need to be considered in the future.