INSIGHT: INSIDER EXPOSES HOW CLAMPERS CHEAT DRIVERS
A whistleblower has exposed the dirty tricks allegedly used by clamping companies to fine innocent motorists and earn bonus cash
The Sunday Times Published: 25 September 2011
Nick Raymond claims his car was clamped in his own parking spaceStaff at one of Britain’s biggest clamping companies have been exposed for falsifying evidence and removing parking permits so that they can fine innocent motorists.A whistleblower has disclosed a series of dirty tricks allegedly used by staff at Shoal Enforcement, which patrols almost 600 parking sites.The firm encourages staff to clamp as many cars as possible by offering financial rewards. It can earn as much as £700 in penalties from just one vehicle.According to the whistleblower, staff routinely tamper with the photographic evidence showing the time a car was parked illegally. He says this allows them to make it appear as if vehicles have been parked for at least 15 minutes — the minimum time before they are allowed to clamp.The whistleblower gave details of two occasions in recent months when staff allegedly removed valid parking permits from car dashboards. The cars were clamped and fined for failing to display the permits.The Sunday Times has tracked down the owner of one of the cars. He accused Shoal of “trapping and deceiving honest motorists” and has reported the matter to the police.The management company at the site where the second parking permit was removed has cancelled its contract with Shoal after receiving a number of complaints.The AA said it had concerns about Shoal, which had clamped one of its patrol vans. “They were ruthless. Within six minutes of arriving to help a car, our patrol van had been clamped,” a spokesman said.In a statement, Shoal said the two cars had been “immobilised” for not displaying valid permits. The firm said it was not aware of any occasion when its staff had changed the time codes on cameras.The whistleblower’s disclosures come as Parliament is considering a clause in the Protection of Freedoms Bill which would outlaw clamping on private land. Government figures show that there are 500,000 clampings each year costing motorists almost £55m.Shoal is no stranger to controversy. One of its staff was charged with obstructing the police after he clamped the car of officers guarding the Queen.