Private parking fines

Private parking fines — what is the current situation?

Few motorists have a positive opinion about private parking companies, and apparently, this shows. According to research, 66% of drivers claim they are too aggressive when collecting fines and 84% believe fines are disproportionate to the offence.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that, according to the RAC, 93% of drivers are supporting a new bill to control private parking. Furthermore, the Daily Mirror has also reported that millions of parking tickets are illegal, and many drivers also have the right to fight for a refund, according to the RAC. Professor Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation director, comments: “We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.”

£94 million a year was the 2017 bill for parking fines in the UK. In fact, some cities issued over half a million penalties in the past three years! According to UK Carline, Brent, Croydon and Bristol were the cities that drivers were most likely to be hit with a parking fine — all three cities had given out more than 250,000 fines in 2016. Brent, in particular, soared ahead of other cities across the UK, issuing 537,128 fines across the three-year period.

The top ten councils with the highest number of issued parking fines is as follows:

Rank City No. parking fines issued
(over three years)
1 Brent 537,128
2 Croydon 339,121
3 Bristol 267,913
4 Ealing 236,733
5 Newcastle 221,659
6 Enfield 189,619
7 Sheffield 155,552
8 Leicester 147,358
9 Bradford 141,692
10 Plymouth 121,429


Overall, 2,752,900 penalty charge notices were handed out over the three-year period, with 941,888 tickets issued just in 2016. Taken as fact that each penalty was £100 per offence (the maximum offence), these penalty charges could be costing motorists £275,290,000 per year! And further figures from the RAC suggest these numbers continued to rise in the month running up to Christmas 2017 — with statistics that suggested there was a 10% increase in the number of tickets issued when compared to 2016’s figures (around 17,137 tickets issued every day). Furthermore, ParkingEye Ltd was found to have requested the largest amount of data from the DVLA, with more than 533,000 records obtained in the most recent quarter, at a cost of £2.50 a record.

RAC Foundation director, Steve Gooding, says the data suggests private parking firms are “looking to maximise their profits from drivers out and about doing their festive shopping”. But, is there a reason that motorists are being hit with these fines? 72% of drivers say that parking terms and conditions notices are often hard to read or hidden in car parks. But, another 69% claim that parking charges were simply too high.

Interestingly, research has shown that there may be a pattern when it comes to which days motorists are most likely to get a fine, according to UK Carline. Its research revealed that Saturday was the day most drivers were issued with a parking fine, while Sunday was the least likely. Figures show that just 235,584 tickets were issued on Sundays — a figure which still looks high but is significantly lower than the 430,035 tickets that were issued on Saturdays over the three-year period. Are drivers better behaved on Sundays? Or are parking firms more lenient?

So, what is this new bill regarding parking fines going to do to improve the situation? The RAC suggests that there are a number of areas which need to be addressed within the newly proposed bill in order for it to be a wide success, shifting driver attitudes towards a more positive consumer confidence in private parking firms.

“Importantly, this bill will facilitate a set of national guidelines which we hope will make the appeals’ process simpler, tighten access to the DVLA database and bring higher standards to a sector which clearly has a poor reputation among motorists,” said road policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes. This reputation clearly needs to be worked upon, considering 81% of drivers feel firms have a bad reputation.

However, there appeared to be some positives in this topic a few months ago. In January 2018, the proposed Parking (Code of Practice) Bill from former Conservative minister, Sir Greg Knight, was expected to be heard by the House of Commons for a second time. The proposed new code of practice hoped to ensure fair treatment of motorists and parking firms alike — a practice that is clearly needed following data that shows ticketing has reached epidemic proportions. The RAC were pleased that the code of practice would mean that firms that did not comply with the new code would be blocked from accessing motorist’ information via the DVLA.

However, according to recent RAC news, local authorities and councils could become involved in the ‘war against motorists’ — a phrase coined by a Conservative MP. Reportedly, permits and car parking rates are expected to go up by 45% in certain areas of the UK. This includes the introduction of Sunday parking charges. With councils already racking up a huge £819 million in parking fines, fees and permits during 2016/17, how much are they anticipating to receive if charges increase by 45%? Motorists will not be happy, however, perhaps this is an incentive to fight more in support of a bill to regulate private parking.


Now that the government is involved, we can expect to see more debate regarding parking fines. Could we see the right changes being made in the future?

This article was researched and created by Vindis — Audi servicing specialists.