A tough new compulsory licensing scheme designed to rid England, Wales and Northern Ireland of rogue wheel clampers, has been set out in the Crime and Security Bill.
Proposals within the Bill will make it mandatory for all wheel clamping businesses to be licensed under the terms of a strict code of conduct. The code will include a cap on fines, time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped and set out clear instructions for putting up signs warning drivers that clamping takes place.
Ministers are also looking to introduce an independent appeals process for motorists who feel unfairly penalised by firms and their employees.
Any company which breaches the terms of their licence could lose their right to practise and face up to five years in prison or a substantial fine.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, said:
"The Crime and Security Bill reflects the Government's commitment to prevent abuses by unscrupulous firms and their employees.
"There is no room within the wheel clamping industry for those who indulge in unacceptable behaviour including unclear signage and excessive fees.
"A compulsory licensing scheme for operators will leave clamping firms in no doubt as to their responsibility to the public and anyone breaching the strict code of practice risks losing their licence.
"Firms will have to ensure signage is clear, fines are proportionate and towing practices are regulated. We are also working to introduce an independent appeals process for motorists who feel they have been unfairly treated."
Sadiq Khan, Transport Minister, said:
"These tough new proposals are part of a series of measures the Government is putting in place to tackle the scourge of rogue parking firms who harass and intimidate motorists.
"We have already taken action to restrict access for parking firms wanting driver information and by bringing in these new requirements for clamping firms we are sending a clear message to unscrupulous firms that they need to clean up their act if they want to stay in business."
The new legislation has been drawn up following discussions with motoring groups, industry representatives and a 12-week public consultation during the summer. Currently, any individual undertaking wheel clamping must hold a frontline licence from the Security Industry Authority, with supervisors or directors holding a non-frontline licence.
The new Compulsory Licensing Scheme will extend responsibility from individuals to businesses. It will be administered and controlled by the Security Industry Authority, which regulates the private security industry in Great Britain under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, and reports to the Home Secretary.