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Private clampers fleece motorists

Press release: 16/10/2009

  • 64% rise in clamping incidences in the last 12 months

  • £58 million paid out by motorists to private clamping firms in same period

  • One in 20 clamped cars are left damaged by heavy-handed operatives

  • LV= calls for private clamping firms to be better regulated


The number of drivers being clamped due to a lack of available parking is booming, with London by far the most costly place to get clamped.

The findings from car insurer LV= suggest a 64% rise in the number of drivers being clamped in the last year[1]. Municipal clampers typically charge £116 and private clampers £120, with the legality of private clamping companies currently under dispute[2].

According to the LV= research local councils took £21m in clamping fees, over the last 12 months compared with £58m taken by private clamping firms[3].

It's not just the fines the drivers have to pay. According to the research 4% of drivers who had their car clamped ended up with damage to their vehicle adding to their financial woes.

As the private clamping industry is currently unregulated, motorists have no official route of complaint and getting money back in the event of being unfairly clamped can be awkward. If you do find yourself in this situation the most effective route of complaint is to send a letter recorded delivery including relevant photography of the clamped vehicle and localised area.

The rise in clamping by private firms is particularly dramatic over the last 12 months, increasing from 292,023 incidences to 486,705 incidences[4], year on year.

The most common reason cited by people for parking on private land is the lack of available legal parking spaces in the vicinity (12%). LV= is today calling on the government to increase legislation on private clamping companies and increase the number of parking spaces available.

Close to one in five (17%) drivers believe they were clamped even though they were being parked legally and six in ten (59%) say there was little or no warning displayed to indicate they were parking in a private space.

Moreover, one in ten (11%) of those clamped by private individuals said their vehicle was not released immediately, even after they had paid the release fee. And a number of the motorists interviewed said they received high levels of abuse from private clampers.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: "What we're seeing is a huge surge in the number of drivers being landed with unreasonable and extortionate fines. Private clampers make millions every year and in some cases are using intimidating and aggressive tactics to raise money from drivers who have unknowingly parked in the wrong place.

"We believe the clamping industry needs to be better regulated by the Government. This would help to put an end to heavy handed tactics and ensure that there's a fair and consistent approach across the UK by all firms."

For more information, log on to www.LV.com/insurance


[1] The Opinium research surveyed 500 clamped drivers. Of these in the last twelve months 123 had been clamped by private clampers, 45 by the Local Authority and 22 by the DVLA, a total of 190. Between one and two years ago 72 were clamped by private clampers, 32 by a Local Authority clamper and 12 by the DVLA, a total of 116 clamps. The total rise in clamping in the last year is therefore an estimated 64 per cent. This data is based on retrospective recall from participants.
[2] According to barrister Doctor Chris Elliot.
[3] There were 486,705 incidences of private clamping last year (see footnote 4 for methodology). Therefore private clampers took £58,404,600 in fines in total.
The average fine from a local authority clamper last year was £116, with 182,280 incidences in the last 12 months. The total number was therefore £21,144,480.
[4] The current UK adult population is 48,772,000. 72 per cent of these drive and 6 per cent of drivers have been clamped (2,100,000). Of these, 66% were private firms (1,390,587) doing the clamping. 35% of these or 486,705 private clamping incidences occurred in the last year. In comparison, between one and two years ago there were 292,023 incidences of clamping (or 21% of all incidence) by private companies.


Notes to Editors: The research was carried out by Opinium between 22nd -26th June 2009 among an online sample of 3,002 UK adults. Results were weighted to be representative of the UK population.

LV=

LV= is a registered trade mark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs over 3,800 people, serves around 3.6 million customers and members, and manages around £7 billion on their behalf. We are also the UK’s largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Key Statistics 2008, total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider.

Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited, registered in England and Wales number 3232514, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 202965. Registered address for both companies: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. Tel: 01202 292333.