BPA Launches Independent Review of Decriminalised

The British Parking Association (BPA) today (19 July 2005) releases a review of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE). The review, which was part funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), is designed to assist the Government in putting together statutory guidance notes in respect of the Traffic Management Act 2004. These notes are expected to be issued to Local Authorities (LAs) early next year.
BPA.jpgTo view a pdf of the report Click Here.

As more LAs seek powers to manage parking locally through DPE, there has been increased public concern about parking regulation and its enforcement. Therefore, the BPA commissioned Richard Childs, a former Chief Constable, to undertake an independent strategic review of the way DPE is operated throughout the country, with the aim of recommending improvements to the process.

Keith Banbury, chief executive of the BPA, commented: "The BPA is well placed to spearhead this review, as it represents the whole industry, having members from both the public and private sectors, who we hope will welcome the recommendations in the report. In areas such as fines, transparency and abuse of parking attendants, the report recommendations are particularly strong and, if they are taken forward by Government, I believe that they will go a long way to ensuring public confidence in the system.

"I would urge the DfT to take these recommendations on board, and we look forward to working in partnership with them to effect real change in the industry."
The DPE review provides over 40 recommendations for the operation of on-street parking management throughout the UK. The main recommendations are that:

  • Research is undertaken into the benefits of parking enforcement and that LAs are encouraged to undertake their own community opinion research into parking control and the impact of enforcement on congestion, flow of traffic and safety.

  • LAs become more transparent, clearly reporting both income, expenditure and surplus from parking enforcement and indicating what surplus income is spent on, and that reporting of penalty charge notice (PCN) levels and representations are reported to Government annually in a standard format.

  • Performance measurement based on the number of PCNs issued is discouraged. This can be achieved through use of a model contract, such as the BPA's model contract, and it is suggested that this should be encouraged.

  • The principle of proportional parking charges and penalty fines is considered, including enhanced penalties for persistent offenders, and that, in collaboration with the BPA, the DfT undertakes to establish a way forward in this area.

  • LAs are encouraged to review loading and delivery arrangements in controlled parking zones.

  • The BPA explores further the ways in which parking attendants are rewarded and recognised, including improvement of skills, independent training and qualifications, job titles, remuneration and working practices.

  • The BPA undertakes, for the first time, national research into parking attendant abuse, documenting each case, its details and the outcome/response, and uses this information to explore how the victimisation of parking attendants can become a more serious criminal issue and perhaps a separate criminal offence.

  • The time after which a vehicle may be immobilised or removed is increased and that vehicles parked dangerously or causing an obstruction are not immobilised, but removed.

  • The use of photographic evidence to record infringements is encouraged, and the use of on-street photography is reviewed.

  • Ways to create a national good practice guide for the use of those involved in parking management are established.
Another issue that is highlighted in the report is that of parking attendant discretion. The report recommends that no further discretion is given to parking attendants, and that responsibility in this area continues to lie with LAs. It was felt by the author that increasing discretion would put parking attendants at further risk, and that it would create an unfair system, as discretion is not able to be measured.

Richard Childs, former Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, produced the report for the BPA after six months of investigation and research that included meeting with a number of stakeholders. These included a steering group of key figures from within the parking industry and also from other business and public sectors, as well as consulting motoring organisations.

He commented: "My research shows that while parking legislation is not fundamentally flawed, statutory guidelines could substantially impact the application of the law throughout the UK, creating a more consistent, transparent and trusted system of parking enforcement. It is important that the parking industry develops and changes the perception of the role it plays on Britain's streets. By working in partnership with Government to make the legislation fairer, and easier for the public to use and understand, this can be achieved."

Transport Minister Karen Buck said: "I welcome the British Parking Association's review of how decriminalised parking enforcement is working in practice. The recommendations will feed into the work the department is already doing as part of our review of parking policy.

"Through the Traffic Management Act 2004 we are developing new guidance and regulations to assist local authorities in deciding how best to carry out their parking activities in the most fair and effective way possible."

In 2005, there have been a number of BPA initiatives which are aimed at both improving industry standards and improving public confidence in the parking industry. These include the launch of an Accredited Parking Attendant training programme, a Model Contract and a call for assault on public sector workers to become a separate criminal offence.
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