Use of licensed wheel-clampers
Wheel-clampers who charge a release fee must have a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) if they are working on private land. It is a criminal offence for wheel-clampers without a licence to clamp your vehicle and to try to charge a release fee. It is also a criminal offence for someone to employ an unlicensed wheel-clamper, or for a landowner to allow a wheel-clamper who they know is unlicensed to operate on their property.
When you pay to have your vehicle released, the wheel-clamper must provide a receipt which includes the following information:
the place where the vehicle was clamped
their name and signature
their SIA licence number (a 15 digit number on the front of their licence)
Licensed wheel-clampers should also wear their SIA licence where you can see it at all times when they are working.
When can your vehicle be clamped
If you park on private land without the owner's permission, they can legally clamp your vehicle. However, they can only do this under certain conditions.
Some examples of when your vehicle might be clamped on private land are when:
you have parked in a car park reserved for customers of a pub and you are not a customer
you have parked in the car park of a block of flats, where you are not a resident
you have parked in a car park reserved for employees of a company, when you are not an employee
you have overstayed in a pay car park
you have failed to display a ticket or permit properly, or at all
you have parked across two spaces instead of one
you have parked dangerously, or blocked an emergency access.
In order for your vehicle to be legally clamped:
there must be notices up where you can clearly see them, warning that unauthorized vehicles will be clamped
the landowner does not charge more than a reasonable fee to release your vehicle
your vehicle is released as soon as you have said you will pay the release fee
there is a way for you to get in touch with the landowner (or their agent) to make arrangements to pay, for example a telephone number on the warning notice.
It is a SIA requirement that a landowner must not clamp your vehicle if:
it displays a valid disabled badge
is a marked emergency service vehicle attending an emergency.
What to do if you are clamped
If you are clamped:
keep calm, don't lose your temper or attempt to remove a wheel-clamp - you could be sued for criminal damage if you damage the wheel-clamp. You could be also prosecuted for theft if you keep the clamp
contact the telephone number shown and ask for release
check whether warning signs and boundaries are clear enough. You could also take a photograph to use as evidence later on
ask the wheel-clamper who they work for, and whether the landowner's authority can be produced
you have the right as a clamped motorist to see their SIA licence if they are asking for a fee to release the vehicle
if you don't think a wheel-clamper is licensed , don't pay the release fee. If they refuse to release your vehicle without a fee, call the police An unlicensed wheel-clamper who asks for a fee is committing a criminal offence You can report unlicensed wheel-clampers to the SIA
if the wheel-clamper uses threatening or intimidating behaviour, you should report this to the police
if the wheel-clamper is licensed, you will have to pay the release fee, but insist on a receipt. Try to get the address and phone number at which the wheel-clamper can be contacted
if you think you should not have been clamped, for example because the warning notices were inadequate, or the release fee was too high, the only way to get your money back may be through the courts. A solicitor will be able to advise you on what chance you have of winning your case.
It may be necessary to tow away a vehicle parked on private land if it is:
dangerously parked; or
causing an obstruction; or
blocking an emergency access.
If your vehicle is towed away from private land:
look for any notices with contact information for the site owners or managers
contact the local police station - they should be informed when a vehicle has been removed (do not dial 999 however!)
you will have to pay to get the vehicle released, but you may want to get legal advice from a solicitor.
Anyone who tows away vehicles and charges a release fee must be licensed by the SIA. You can report them to the SIA (see above) if they are not licensed.