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[RAC FOUNDATION] Time to outlaw cowboy clampers, say motori
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 10:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[RAC FOUNDATION] Time to outlaw cowboy clampers, say motori

Friday 18 November

Time to outlaw cowboy clampers, say motorists

Ninety four percent of motorists want to see wheel clamping on private land outlawed in England and Wales, according to a new poll from the RAC Foundation for Motoring*. Motorists believe it is time to follow the example of the Scots and make clamping on private land illegal. In 1992 the Scottish courts ruled that wheel clamping was nothing more than “extortion and theft” and banned it overnight.

This finding comes despite the fact that clamping has been “regulated” for the last six months.

In England and Wales, since 3 May 2005 anyone working as a Vehicle Immobiliser on private land must have a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). An SIA licence is meant to show that “a vehicle immobiliser has been properly trained to carry out their job, and that they have passed an identity check and a criminal record check.”

The RAC Foundation warned Government prior to the introduction of new legislation that it would not work without a strict and enforceable code of practice.

Our dossier of “cowboy clampers” proves that rogue clampers have been sticking two fingers up to the SIA scheme since its introduction in May this year**. Examples include:-

May 2005 – a man’s car clamped outside his flat by non-licensed clampers, despite the fact that the licensing scheme was delayed to give all workers a chance to register.
June 2005 – clampers still charging over £500 release fees.
August 2005 - a London man’s car clamped and prepared for towing while he was collecting a visitor’s permit from his cousin’s second floor flat. His car was damaged by the tow-truck.
The RAC Foundation sent the Home Secretary clear examples of the rules being ignored***, and called for urgent action to tighten up the guidelines. The Home Office was shown evidence of:-
A clamper telling a motorist to move his car and park in a specific area, waiting until he went into the bank and then clamping him.
The company using an unlicensed clamper with a serious criminal record (including cutting off someone's fingers with a machete) to carry out clamping activity (contrary to the licence agreement).
Clampers accepting bribes from the public and not giving receipts (contrary to the licence agreement).
The Home Office replied that “the Security Industry Association’s observations … were that no illegal activities under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 were conducted, though unprofessional practices may have been carried out.”
Edmund King, Executive Director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“The Home Office’s response to the shocking practices we showed them is wholly inadequate. If the Home Office does not interpret these examples as illegal then it shows that the legislation is useless.
“We believe that the SIA licensing scheme must be reinforced by a legally enforceable code of practice, holding clampers to account. If the SIA scheme cannot prevent bribery and other sharp practices, then wheelclamping on private land should be outlawed as it is in Scotland. Ninety four percent of drivers think it is time to take this step.”
The RAC Foundation has been campaigning for over ten years for better regulation of wheel-clamping on private land, and created the annual “Dick Turpin Awards” to expose the worst abusers.
Notes to Editors

* Online Poll of 460 motorists conducted on the RAC Foundation web-site www.racfoundation.org
**The RAC Foundation launched its search for the UK’s worst clamper in October 2004. Motorists were asked to email or phone in their examples of cowboy clamping to cowboyclampers@racfoundation.co.uk .
***Sky News special "Cowboy Clampers" was broadcast six times over the weekend of 25/26 June 2005. Sky News were not involved in the RAC Foundation’s campaign to better regulate wheel clamping.
RAC Foundation Fact File. Clamping – The Rules
In May, clamping on private land without a licence became a criminal offence. From then, anyone clamping, towing away or blocking vehicles for a fee had to have a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence and those not complying could incur significant fines of up to £5000 and up to five years in prison.
All SIA licensed clampers have had to be trained to:
Know when to clamp and when not to clamp
Understand the legislation concerning vehicle immobilisation
Behave in a responsible manner
Provide effective customer care
Avoid, resolve and defuse conflict.
The conditions of the licence state that any vehicle immobiliser must not clamp/block/tow away a vehicle if:

A valid disabled badge is displayed
It is a marked emergency service vehicle in use
When a release fee is collected, the vehicle immobiliser must provide a receipt which should include:
The location where the vehicle was clamped or towed
Their name and signature
Their licence number
The date
If motorists are clamped on private land, they should first ask to see the clamper’s SIA licence. If they don’t have one, report them to the SIA (08702 430 100) or email info@the-sia.org.uk. If the clamper won’t release your car you should contact the police.

If the clamper does have a licence, and you feel they have behaved in an inappropriate way, you should first take the matter up with them. If they fail to resolve your complaint, you may have a case in civil law against them. You should contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Trading Standards Officer

For further information on the licensing scheme and the work of the Security Industry Authority visit www.the-sia.org.uk

The RAC Foundation for Motoring is an independent body established to protect and promote the interests of UK motorists. Motoring organisation RAC supports its seven million customers with breakdown cover and a wide range of other motoring solutions. The views of each organisation should not be attributed to the other.

Edmund King
Executive Director
RAC Foundation
Tel 020 7747 3485
Mobile 07850 786960
ISDN 020 7389 0601

Kevin Delaney
Traffic and Road Safety Manager
RAC Foundation
Tel 020 7747 3487
Mobile 07860 953729
ISDN 020 7389 0601

Sheila Rainger
Campaigns Manager
RAC Foundation
Tel 020 7747 3486
Mobile 07711 776448
ISDN 020 7389 0601
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